VOL. XIV. February 1, 1931 No. 3
VOL. XIV. February 15, 1931 No. 4
VOL. XIV. February 1, 1931 No. 3
according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit,
unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood
THE CONSECRATED and wholly surrendered disciple of Christ soon learns that his fellowship with the Master in heavenly things, involves far more than merely a mental or intellectual appreciation of spiritual truth; that the heart, the affections, and all that one possesses is involved in the great engagement that is entered into when he accepts the Master's call to fellowship with Him. Perhaps in the commencement of this study we do well to hear again a word of caution on both sides of this question. Obviously it is a mistake to cultivate and appreciate only the intellectual side of God's grace while it is also a mistaken view to cultivate chiefly the emotions aroused by God's grace and Truth. And while we should realize that these extremes or opposites, result often from a difference of temperament, this should be no reason for neglecting to alter or modify our natural tendencies, to have them conform to the Lord's good pleasure as indicated to us in His Holy Word.
The Master's prayer for His people clearly indicates what is the proper means for our sanctification. He prayed, "Sanctify them through Thy truth"; and then making us doubly sure of its meaning, He added, "Thy Word is truth." If any therefore attempt to be sanctified by any other process, through feelings or emotions, or by misconceptions of the Truth, on in any other way than by the Truth itself, such. are seeking a valuable treasure, a good thing, in a wrong way; and the result will surely be unsatisfactory until the Lord's way and methods are adopted.
Importance of the Heart Sanctification
But we would be making no less serious a mistake if while devouring God's Word we get from it merely relief from fears and a certain satisfaction for our curiosity. Curiosity is insatiable; and if we fail to get what God designs to give us through the Truth -- sanctification, we will ere long be devouring that which may not be altogether truth, but yet it might have the effect of feeding our curiosity, and we might delude ourselves into supposing that we are continually feeding upon the Truth -- although at the same time well aware that each new thing devoured is soon abandoned as error, while our curiosity continues the devouring process, but never is satisfied. Such the Apostle describes as "Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the Truth." -- 2 Tim. 3:7.
How manifest it is to us as we carefully and reverently contemplate the Word of the Lord, that the proper course unites the head with the heart in the search for Truth! The heart searches that it may know or prove what is that good and acceptable will of God, that it may please and serve Him. The head, or intellect; is merely the servant of the heart and searches to test or prove the truth that the honest heart be not deceived into believing and serving amiss. But when the head undertakes to do all the truth seeking and feeding, the real design of the Truth-sanctification, is not attained. The result is merely a reasoning about the Truth and not a practicing of the Truth -- the Word of Truth is handled and dissected, but the spirit of it is not received into a good and honest heart; because it is not a heart-hunger that is being fed but a curiosity-hunger. May we not in this way today account for the fact that there are large numbers of professing brethren who have a considerable of intellectual perception of the Truth, while apparently their lives and general outlook give evidence that it has not seriously affected their hearts, their affections and their all of earthly treasure. But where the heart hungers and thirsts after righteousness (after right views o£ God and of fellow-men and of the proper use of our time. influence, and talents) and the head as the heart's servant engages in searching God's Word, the case is different; because then each morsel of truth received is at once applied in the life, and the sanctifying work begins and progresses. To this true heart, to know and comprehend the Lord's will, means to at once strive to do what it sees, and not merely to see the duty or privilege.
Grace and Peace Be Multiplied
Where truth is seen, and when the heart falls in love with it so that it delights to conform itself to it, even at the cost of convenience, of friendship, or of other selfish advantages -- there the sanctifying influence or spirit of Truth is at work -- there the results sought and intended by our Lord are being attained. Joy will accompany, also peace and trust and love. And zeal will never be lacking in a thoroughly sanctified heart, although all may not manifest it in the same. way. With one it may be manifested boisterously and with great activity, as a mountan stream when suddenly swollen by a cloudburst; with another it may be that deep and unshown current of spiritual life which enables its possessor to go more calmly forward in a life of sacrifice, and in faithfulness to duty against all opposition -- as an iceberg moved by the under-current of the ocean moves steadily and irresistibly with the current against all the surface currents of the ocean.
Thus to enter into the spirit of the Lord's Plan and Program as revealed in His Word is to be sanctified by His Message of Truth, and this is impossible without some knowledge of it. Whoever catches the spirit of the Truth will have some emotions whether or not they are manifest to others. Sanctification is the Truth acted upon, put into the affairs of life; and under present-age conditions always leads to self-denial, self-sacrifice in the service of God, the Truth and fellow-men.
Now then, it is evidently to these, who are being sanctified and transformed by the renewing of their minds, that the beloved Apostle Peter addresses his message: Grace and peace be multiplied, increased unto you. This means that the experienced and developed Christian shall have advanced far beyond the point where he began the Christian life. And such will not be of the class who are disposed to refer back to the days when they took the first step as babes in Christ as the happiest days of their life. Such as do this have not been developing as they should and not experiencing that wealth of Divine favor which is the privilege of every consecrated and faithful soul.
Castles of Wood, Hay and Stubble
The Apostle's greeting is, Grace and peace be multiplied unto you. If our hearts leaped for joy when we realized the first droppings of grace and peace, how should our songs abound now with the increasing evidences of Divine favor -- with the multiplication of grace and peace now experienced! But let us ask ourselves, Is it really so with us? Are grace and peace really being multiplied unto us? The Apostle's words unmistakably indicate that such should be the experience of all who have obtained like precious faith with him, and further that this increase of blessing should come through an increasing knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.
Apparently some Christians have looked for the increase of Divine favor and peace through other agencies than the knowledge of God; but such is not God's order. The knowledge of the Truth is the sanctifying power, the peace and joy imparting power, and is the precious evidence of Divine grace or favor. Those who expect to be sanctified without this divinely provided agency, and who are hoping to enjoy abiding peace without will surely be disappointed. Their peace may last while the sun of prosperity shines, and so long as they do not permit themselves to think beyond the immediate present or to consider future possibilities; or they may for a time upon a very slight knowledge of the Truth build up beautiful castles of wood, hay, and stubble, with here and there a precious stone of truth, and I for a time be filled with even ecstatic joy over them. But soon such flimsy structures must fall, and the transient joy end in bitter disappointment, in a loss of faith, joy, and peace, and measurably at least, in a loss of the realization of the Divine favor.
But such disappointments are never realized by those whose peace has its fountain in the perennial springs of God's eternal Truth, for the Apostle says He has given unto-us all things that pertain unto life and godliness through the knowledge of Him that has called us to glory and virtue. But this knowledge of God is not merely an intellectual knowledge of His great and loving Plan: ít includes also a personal acquaintance with Him, a heart to heart communion and fellowship with Him, and established sympathy and love and common interest and cooperation. And such a knowledge or acquaintance with God is gained through the study of His precious Word with reverence and diligence, coupled with obedience through the personal application of the principles of that Word in the everyday life, and through secret prayer and communion with Him.
The Wealth of Love Divine
If we would have this inspiring acquaintance with God, we must not forget our privilege of secret prayer. Remembering reverently the Master's words; "Enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is invisible, and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee." "The Father, Himself loveth you, because ye have loved Me and have believed that I came out from God." Again, "If a man love Me, He will keep My Word and My Father will love Him, and we will come unto Him and make our abode with Him." Thus it is our privilege to know God; but only those who have had the blessed experience can appreciate how greatly the grace and peace of God can be multiplied unto us through the knowledge of Him thus acquired. As we draw near to Him in prayer and communion and the study of His precious Word, we are made to understand the wealth of the Divine love and favor toward us who are in Christ Jesus and who through entire consecration of ourselves to God, have escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust (the worldly desires, ambitions). We learn that to us are given exceeding great and precious promises that by these we might be made partakers of the Divine nature; that we are called to be heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ, that if we are faithful to our covenant of entire consecration to God we shall be made like Him and see Him as He is; that we may behold the King in His beauty, and that through us in the Ages to come God will manifest the exceeding riches of His grace. Oh, what heights are we called to share with our beloved Lord, and what fathomless love is manifested toward us in Christ Jesus, the Anointed!
"Keep Thy Heart"
Now let us in this connection consider that solemn admonition given by the wise man in those far off days: "Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life"; for the thought here suggested is in close relation to what we have just reviewed foregoing. The heart which is the center and mainspring of physical life is here used as the symbol of the affections. Keep the center of the affections right, true, and pure, and the words and deeds and looks and plans emanating therefrom will be good, true, and pure even though not always perfect. On the contrary, unless the heart is thus fixed, all attempts to otherwise regulate the life will be measurably fruitless and, at best, only spasmodic. How necessary, then, if we would live consistent Christian lives, moving steadily on in the way of righteousness, that our affections should be centered in God, that our hearts should be as true to Him as the mariner's needle to the pole.
The Apostle wrote, "A double minded man is unstable in all his ways." A man whose affections are not centered in God, but which are divided with others, or centered on self and its varied whims, cannot be otherwise than vacillating in his course through life, just as a ship's course would be irregular had it two rudders, one before and the other behind, and operated by two masters, whose ideas as to course were generally different. They never could accomplish results satisfactory to either.
If we attempt to steer our course acceptably both to the world and to God, we will fail to please either. And, further, the Lord will be a party to no such contract; and when He steps out, the influence of the other master, the world, will increase, and the result will be slavery to the world. This is the mistake which so many make after corning to recognize the Lord's goodness. Being justified by faith in Christ's redemptive work and realizing peace with God through the merit of the precious blood, they do not make a covenant with the Lord, giving up to Him their little all of both the present and the future. Feeling their freedom from the slavery of sin, the temptation is to stand free from God, as well as free from Satan, and to do their own pleasure-serving God or self, or, to some extent, both God and self.
The Soul's Meat and Drink
Such generally agree that obedience to God, even to the extent of sacrifice, would be a reasonable service in view of His favor in their redemption; yet somehow they feel a disinclination to so fully surrender all to God, lest this should imply too great a sacrifice of self-convenience and self-will. But let no one so minded conclude that he has given his heart to God. To give the heart to God is to surrender the whole being to His will at any cost, even of self-sacrifice, if His will and His work should require it. To give the heart to God is, therefore, to meet and measurably overcome all the coming temptations at once, by a complete surrender of the affections, and consequently, of the will, to God. It will settle every question of right and privilege, and make no attempt to distinguish between God's positive commands and His intimated wishes, finding its meat and drink to be the doing of His will, whether pleasant or unpleasant to the flesh, ,and whether the outcome can be fully seen or not.
This giving of the heart to God, this full, complete consecration of every interest, hope, and aim, present and future, is sanctification. And those thus fully sanctified may implicitly trust Divine wisdom, love, and power, and hold fast the exceeding great and precious promises. God will never leave them nor forsake them, nor suffer them to be tempted above what they are able to bear and withstand. All things shall work together for good to such. Only those thus consecrated .can and do have the deep peace and joy of heart which !the passing storms and difficulties of the present time cannot disturb.
Let God's Will Direct
Though but few take this step of entire consecration to God's will, still fewer live it out practically, keeping their hearts constantly submissive to the Lord's will only; hence few keep their hearts fully in the love of God (Jude 21) ; and hence it is that so few enjoy the full measure of the joy and peace and communion with God, which is the privilege of all the fully consecrated and faithful. To maintain our hold upon our new relationship as consecrated sons, to maintain the spirit of adoption now, and to realize in due time our promised joint-heirship with our Lord Jesus in the Divine glory, we must let, permit and not oppose the Lord's plan and leading-let our wills remain dead to self and subservient to God's will; and let God's will direct and rule all our course of action according to His plan. It is thus that we are to fulfill the Apostolic instructions Let the peace of God rule in your hearts; Let this mind [this disposition of heart and consecration of will] be in you which was also in Christ Jesus our Lord. Col. 3:15; Phil. 2:5.
And it is in anticipation of our joint-heirship with Christ in glory that the fully consecrated rejoice to partake of His affliction, as the Apostle exhorts, saying: Rejoice, inasmuch as [or to the extent that], when His glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. 1 Pet. 4:13
In humble thankfulness let us ponder these precious promises more and more as in secret we bow at the Throne of Heavenly Grace; and here let the Holy Spirit of God apply the instructions to our hearts, and so may we be filled with the Spirit, and grace and peace be multiplied unto us.
BY BROTHER L. F. ZINK
I have just finished my itinerary from Brantford, Ontario, eastward into Quebec and down through central New York State, and am glad to report a very profitable trip indeed -- one that has been spiritually helpful to myself and I trust also to the Classes visited.
Calls were made at several points in Ontario where as a rule the members are small, but in all the little companies visited I found a real hunger for the Word, for the better things. In the different meetings held, and in the hours of fellowship between, many interesting discussions were enjoyed, dealing with the significance of present events as these are related to our hopes. At some points it seemed necessary to discuss some of the old fundamentals afresh, in order to, make manifest the absurdities of the teachings presented today by those who are perverting the Truth. Truly our Master said, "If the light that is in thee be[come] darkness, how great is that darkness."
Special mention should be made of the exceptionally good visit at Montreal. Here I found the friends equally hungry, and we had a very enjoyable time. Five meetings were held with this happy Class, where the atmosphere seemed like that of a little convention. Questions of vital importance to the faithful watchers were discussed here also, and apparently with much profit to all.
Several points were served in New York State with much the same sense of pleasure and profit. At Rochester we had a particularly interesting and profitable time with the little group of brethren. While with these dear friends we were told of the passing of an old Brother of whom we may now write, believing that it will be a matter of interest to many who were associated with Brother Russell for many years.
The name of W. I. Mann will be known to many "Herald" readers as one who co-labored with Brother Russell in the early days of his ministry, as he wrote many articles that appeared in The Watch Tower at that time. It seems that for some little time this Brother had been attending the little meetings of our brethren in Rochester, and had enjoyed their studies with them. He had expressed his intention of being present at the meetings during my visit also, but meantime bad passed away. The brethren in Rochester were impressed with his sincerity and had enjoyed his brief association with them. "The Lord knoweth them that are His."
At Buffalo we had a Christmas service and gave special attention to the "Coming of the King" under whose reign wars shall cease, for
and empires shall disappear,
We will soon be clothed upon with our house from above. Our deliverance draweth nigh. Let us watch.
we move along, asunder,
understanding, we gain false impressions,
understanding, souls with stunted vision
the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth unto such as
TO WALK in "all the paths of the Lord" implies a faithful obedience to His will, a delight in His commandments, and His purposes. And to thus faithfully conform one's life to the will of God, is to enjoy the fulfillment of all His good promises of rest and peace pertaining, to the present life. Of this fact we are assured by the Apostle, "Godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come." (1 Tim. 4:8.) When all the tithes of faith and love are brought into the storehouse, the promised blessings are sure to come. And the Bible is full of exceeding great and precious promises, waiting to be fulfilled in the lives of those who can say, "Where He leads me I will follow."
The paths of the Lord represent to us the way that leads to the attainment of glory, honor, and immortality. Walking in this way we have abundant assurance that our steps will be carefully chosen for us, for thus it is written, "The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in His way." (Psa. 37:23.) But these promises of guidance are limited to .the stepsone at a time. As for the future days, we know not what a day may bring forth. Our pathway may be where "Eden's bowers bloom," and with each joy He sends may come "a glad and sweet surprise," or it may be through trials and adversities from which God now kindly veils our eyes. But through sunshine and shadow, He leads in paths of righteousness, for His own name's sake.
My Times are in Thy Hands
Thus the paths of the Lord, founded in mercy and truth,, are paths of faith and confidence in God. We walk by faith and not by sight, willing to follow on even where we cannot trace the purpose of God in permitting some of the special trials that overtake us. Therefore, the great lesson we must learn is that of implicit trust in the constant, never-failing direction of our paths by a love that can never fail -- the love of God for His obedient, trustful children.
It is only when we can truthfully say, "Faith can firmly trust Him, come what may," that we are in the most favorable attitude of mind to be led step by step in His paths. If we meet our trials with a questioning, Why? as we so often do, the trial of our faith, which is more precious in God's sight than gold that perisheth, has simply weighed us in the balance, only to find us wanting. But when we can be content whatever lot we see, and through faith in the God of mercy and truth, receive every experience as being of His appointment, or permission: then we are pleasing its His sight. For not until we are prepared to say of each trial, "It is the Lord let Him do what seemeth Him good," will we enjoy the fullness of His leadings and His, afterward of blessing.
The benefits to be secured by these experiences depend wholly upon our being properly exercised lay them. "All things work together for good to them that love God, to the called according to His purpose," and only to these when they acquiesce trustfully in the wisdom of God in permitting the experience. Thus our contentment of mind will be in proportion to our willingness to let God have His way In our lives, our willingness to let Him chisel out the design of character, and fit it for the special place in His spiritual Temple that His love has planned for us. The language of such hearts will always be
for Thy servant heareth,
The Pain that Love Inflicts
Prophetically it has been written for the comfort of all who put their trust in the Lord: "l will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths ,that they have not known; I will make darkness light before theirs, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them." And in the processes of this leadership He further promises, "When thou passest through the waters, I, will be with thee: and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee." (Isa. 42:16; 43:2.). And in similar language the Apostle assures us that there is a love that does inflict pain for our purgation and advancement: "For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons: for what son is he whom the Father chasteneth not? Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby." -- Heb. 12:6, 7, 11.
Men usually inflict suffering upon unpromising, disobedient offenders: But in the present time, God often inflicts the greatest scourging and discipline upon the most obedient and fruitful. Jesus illustrates this in the lesson of the vine and its branches. Two branches grow side by side; the one bears no fruit, the other bears less than it might. The first is simply removed from its contact with the vine, but the latter is subjected, to severe pruning arid discipline, for "every branch that beareth fruit, He purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit." And this is what the Prophet and the Apostle mean in the texts we have just quoted. God deals with us as with sons, and as an earthly father in training, chastising, and developing his son, is concerned about the coming manhood of his child, so God in love, inflicts pain and suffering because He is keeping in mind the eternal ages to come. Yes, God does give hard, difficult lessons to His most promising son. Therefore, writes the Apostle again, "My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of Him." -- Heb. 12 :5.
Made Perfect after Ye have Suffered Awhile
God does not delight in our pain and suffering. lie did not delight in the anguish of His own beloved Son as He suffered, the just for the unjust, though it is written, "It pleased the Lord to bruise Him." No, God's delight is only in that which these sufferings make possible. The great possibilities, both for Jesus Himself, and the human race, were the things, that reconciled God to a plan that required the death of one so dear to Him as His obedient Son.
And so it is in His discipline with us: It is riot our grief and pain that is pleasing to God. It is our joyful response to His will for us that rejoices His heart. He rejoices in the continuity of our joy, our delight to have His will accomplished in us. When we can say with Jesus, "Father glorify Thy name" at any cost to me, for this purpose I am in the world, and to this end I have committed all to Thee, then God has joy in our submission, and in our contentment with all His providences.
"It is not by seeking more fertile regions where toil is lighter -- happier circumstances free from difficult complications and troublesome people -- but by bringing the high courage of a devout soul, clear in principle and aim, to bear upon what is given to us, that we brighten our inward light, lead something of a true life, and introduce the Kingdom of Heaven into the midst of our earthly day. If we cannot work out the will of God where God has placed us, then why has He placed us there?"
Looking back We will Praise the Way
God is giving us opportunity to display real character when His paths lead through the deep waters. No other environment could as effectually serve our highest interests. But how slow we are. to display play that becoming appreciation of His love and wisdom that has weighed each trial, and censored each experience before it: reaches us. O how great the love that bears down on us, holding us up against the polishing, refining difficulty, until we reflect His image. How patient the love that teaches us the desirability of having a character fully established in godliness, and then, little by little, bends our whole being into a blessed contentment with the methods employed. What joy the Father experiences when at last we reach the point where we truly say, Thy will be done. This is the victory that overcometh. This is triumphing through faith. Blessed is the man that endureth [who does not escape] temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love Him." -- Jas. 1:12.
When all of life is over, and we are privileged to look back over the paths of mercy and truth along which we were led, shall we not have occasion to marvel at the wisdom that foresaw the need of each experience. In the clearer light of that glad clay, each trial successfully passed, will be glorified in our memories forever. How we may feel about our repeated failures to be properly exercised under other trials, we may not know now, but we do know that we shall glory in the final victory accomplished by His grace. But, dear fellow pilgrims, should we not here and now seek to maintain not only a greater contentment with present experiences, but also a much greater jay and gratitude. The very thing that seemed to us to be our greatest hindrance, may yet be seen as our greatest blessing. Our deepest trial may be God's opportunity to glorify Himself in us, and raise up a memorial in our lives that will strengthen us to the end of the way.
Rolling away the Stone
It was thus with the devoted friends of Jesus long ago. The way to the service they yearned to perform was barred. A great stone had been rolled against the door that they desired open. But how precious is the record of their "sweet and glad surprise." "The angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it." (Matt. 28:2.) To have rolled away the stone from the sepulcher was a wonderful thing, a great act of love, but to sit upon it thereafter -- surely that was very unimportant! We would have expected to read that the angel immediately winged his way back to heaven, once the hindrance was removed. But it was not enough to have provided a way of escape, there must be the afterward of blessing, speaking peace.
Ah yes, "it is not enough that the stone of my grief should be rolled away; it must be glorified. I want to see an angel enthroned where my sorrow lay. I want to see the stone that seemed to shut out my greatest hopes glorified in my experience as an angel of victory, and of higher things." Then,
sorrow do its work,
"For therein [in the Gospel] is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, The Just shall live by faith. Rom. 1:17
IN OUR last meditation we noted that the fundamental theme of our Epistle is concisely stated in the text above quoted, and that it may be best appreciated by those who study it in the light of the Apostle's personal experience. We recalled the fact that "St. Paul had, on the lines of his Pharisaic education, in the first half of his life, zealously sought to be justified by works, and had found out his mistake," and remembering this, we were pre pared to find that "his" Gospel has to do with another method of securing justification. This other method, which he presents in striking contrast to the "works of the law," he declares to have originated with God, and to be available to all on the one condition of faith.
Righteousness of God
Let us now examine the text in more detail. In verse sixteen he has said that the Gospel is "the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth." Now he is concerned to explain how this power operates. Such is the object of verse 17. It does so, by making known, to the believer, by revealing to him, a righteousness which has God for its author. The reader will observe that we are here interpreting the phrase "righteousness of God" to mean righteousness which has God for its author. While it is true that the expression "righteousness of God" does in some places (for example, chap. 3, verses 5 and 26) denote an attribute of God, it cannot do so here, for the righteousness of God here mentioned is stated to be revealed in the Gospel. The word translated revealed denotes "the act whereby a thing hitherto veiled now bursts into the light." Now the fact that God is righteous came to light, or was revealed, not in the Gospel, but long before, and while it would be true to say that this attribute of God may be seen in the Gospel, it would not be exact to say that it was revealed there. Furthermore, it should not be overlooked, that the Apostle offers the fact that the Gospel reveals the righteousness of God, as a sufficient explanation of his previous statement that the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation. Now even if it were true, which we have shown is not the case, that righteousness, considered as an attribute of God, is revealed in the Gospel, such a revelation would constitute no explanation of how the Gospel operates unto the believer's salvation, But when to one who is hungering and thirsting after righteousness, there is revealed in the Gospel, (not an attribute of God, but) a way whereby he may himself become righteous, such a message laid hold of by faith, proves to be the mighty energy of God operating unto that one's salvation. In Phil. 3:9 the same expression is used for a righteousness which the Apostle desired to personally secure in the stead of the righteousness (?) that he otherwise possessed. "Yea doubtless," says he, "I count all things but loss . . . that I may win Christ, and be found in Him, not having mine own righteousness; which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith." So also in Rom. 10:3; 2 Cor. 5:21. "In these passages righteousness of God is a state in which God's approval is enjoyed; and which is God's gift to them that believe. And these passages are so similar in thought to the words before us, and this sense agrees so well with the context, that we, accept it here, The Jews had long sought conformity to God's will and the rewards of His favor by attempts to keep the Mosaic law, which says, Do this and live.' In the Gospel God proclaims a new law, [the law of faith, Rom. 3:27j Believe and live.' By this proclamation He bestows righteousness as a gift [the gift of righteousness. Rom. 5:17 apart from all human effort, upon all that believe. Believers conform to the new law, and have therefore the approbation of the judge. They have a righteousness of God or a righteousness from God."
The words "from faith" have been interpreted in various ways. Most frequently they have been associated with the words "to faith" which follow, thus making the phrase "from faith to faith" which phrase has been thought to signify the idea of progress which takes place in faith itself. Indeed with this sense in mind the Greek has been actually translated "from faith on to faith." "This progress has been applied by some [of the early Christian bathers . . . to the transition from faith in the Old Testament to faith as it exists in the New. But there is nothing here to indicate a comparison between the old and the new dispensations. The Reformers have taken the progress of faith to be in the heart of the individual believer. His faith, weak at first, grows stronger and stronger." That the believer's faith does actually progress in this way there can be no question in the mind of an experienced Christian, but "this idea is utterly out of place in the context. A notion so special and secondary as that of the progress which takes place in faith is inappropriate in a summary which admits only of the fundamental ideas being indicated. It would even be opposed to the Apostle's aim to connect the attainment of righteousness with this objective progress of the believer in faith." Now the Greek word here translated "from," (strictly, "out of"), rendered in the Diaglott by means of the preposition "by," expresses origin, and can refer only to the righteousness previously mentioned. Such righteousness is from, out of by, originates in, faith. We submit, therefore, that the Apostle's thought may be best understood by subjoining the words "from faith" to the phrase "righteousness of God." With this change, the text would read: "For therein is the righteousness of God from faith revealed to faith." By the complete expression "righteousness of God from faith" thus obtained, we understand the Apostle to mean that in the Gospel there is revealed a gift of righteousness which righteousness has its origin in faith, and that this gift is of God. We are led to this sense also by the parallel expression to which we have already referred, namely Phil. 3 :9, "The righteousness which is of God by faith," as well as that of Rom. 3:22, "The righteousness of God which is by faith."
Therein is Revealed . . . to Faith
We have seen that the Apostle, having spent the years prior to his conversion in a fruitless effort to establish his own righteousness, and knowing also that salvation is not to be secured apart from righteousness, well understands that the first essential to salvation must be a righteousness which may be possible for than to secure as a gift, for to merit same, he has found from his own Personal experience to be an impossibility. We have seen too, that this greatly needed gift of a faith-righteousness, or a righteousness by faith, he declares to be revealed in the Gospel. Yet he does not say that it is revealed in the Gospel to all. It is revealed only to faith; that is to say, to every one who exercises faith. 'It is interesting and significant to notice in this connection that the Greek word translated "revealed" is in the present tense: "Therein is being revealed." ' It was revealed to some at the time the Gospel was first preached. The Gospel has been continuously revealing the gift to others since. It is by the proclamation of the Gospel that the gift of a faith -- righteousness, or a righteousness by faith, is daily being revealed to faith, that is to say, to believers To those who hear the Gospel and who believe it not, there is no revelation of the gift. It is still veiled to them.
In this connection it is not difficult to identify the Spirit that was upon Isaiah with the Spirit which controlled St. Paul's ministry, when we see the former moved to" prophetically inquire, "Who bath believed our report?" (Isa. 53:1.) Many heard the Apostle's preaching, but not all who heard believed. "To whom," the Prophet inquired further, "is the arm of the Lord revealed?" The Apostle declares that the Arm of the Lord stretched out to accomplish their salvation is revealed in the Gospel to faith, to believers. "But if indeed our glad tidings be veiled, they have been veiled to those who are perishing." -- 2 Cor. 4:3, Diaglott.
What is Faith?
The Apostle has said it is "to every one that believeth" that the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation. It is "to faith" he tells us, that the revelation of God's gift of righteousness arising froth faith is made. In view of the importance which by emphasis and repetition the Apostle thus attaches to this quality of faith, it will be well for us to have clearly in mind just what is meant thereby. On account of the darkness of the past, and of our great Adversary, who delights in, and is the author of confusion, many sad misunderstandings of the simple truths of Scripture have arisen in men's minds, and of none perhaps more than of the teaching respecting faith. People have been urged to believe very unbelievable and unreasonable things. Others have been told that all that was necessary to salvation was to believe, and then were left to wonder and puzzle over what they were a to believe or whom. Some noting the Apostle's statement, "All men have not faith" (2 Thess. 3:2), have concluded that some people either at birth or subsequently, are endowed with this duality of faith and others not, and the Gospel is preached merely to stir up this faith lying dormant, so to speak, in these specially favored ones. With all due respect to those who thus think, we must insist that such is not the teaching of the Bible. The Gospel does not stir up something that is already there. When the Gospel comes there is no faith, but the Gospel there and then creates a faith in its message, and in the One of whom that message speaks. Surely nothing can be more apparent than that faith is not a quality that can be possessed apart from an object. It is hat possible to merely have faith. There must be some one or some thing in which that faith rests. We may have faith in a bridge as we ride over it that it will bear the load ; we may have faith in a man that he will act uprightly; but we cannot have faith at all apart from an object.
Faith is Belief
The writer to the Hebrews says: "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." (Heb. 11:1.) This verse has been translated by another thus : "Faith is a sure confidence with respect to things hoped for, a firm persuasion with respect to things not seen." "Christianity ìs a system of faith, and is not susceptible of demonstration like a problem in mathematics. We do not know that there is such a place as heaven, like we know that there is such a place as [the town in which we live] . . . because the latter we have seen, the former we have not seen. We have a sure confidence with respect to it -- a firm persuasion that it exists, because we believe the testimony concerning it, "For we walk by faith and not by sight." (2 Cor. 5:7.) Faith, then, may be defined as a firm, unshaken confidence, conviction, or belief in the truth of a proposition, based upon testimony concerning it. The order is: Fact, Testimony, Faith. First, a fact must exist, then it most be revealed with testimony sufficiently strong to establish its truth, then the confidence in, or firm belief of this testimony is faith. In support of this position, it may be well to make a quotation or two.
"When Jesus saw the Centurion's confidence that a word from the Master would heal his servant, He said to them following Him; I have not found so great faith, no not in Israel,' and then said, to the Centurion, As thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour.' (Matt. 8:10, 13.) Here Jesus used the words faith and belief interchangeably, showing clearly that the Centurion's belief was his faith."
Again, "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness." (Rom. 4:3.) "What was accounted to Abraham for righteousness? Belief; and that this belief was faith is seen in the ninth verse in which it is said, Faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness.' Surely nothing could be more clear than that believing God constituted Abraham's faith."
How does Faith come?
In Romans 10:14 the Apostle inquires: "How shill they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?" Here the purpose of his question is undoubtedly to make the impression that they could do neither, and to clearly show that after the facts of the Gospel exist, the order is preaching, hearing, believing. Then in that well-known seventeenth verse he sums up the matter: "So then, faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." In our Lord's prayer to His Father He said : "Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also who shall believe on Me through their word." (John 17:20.) "Observe, He prayed for them who should believe on Him through the words of the Apostles; and as He required them to preach the Gospel, the people were expected to believe in Him by hearing the Gospel which the Apostles were required to preach. In keeping with this arrangement, Peter preached to the Pentecostians, and when they heard this they were pricked in their heart.' (Acts 2:37.) So their faith came by hearing . . . . The faith of the Gentiles, too, came in the same way; for Peter said, Brethren, ye know that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the Gospel, and believe.' (Acts 15:7.) Luke further tells us that many of the Corinthians hearing believed.' (Acts I8:8.) it came to pass in Iconium, that they [Paul and Barnabas] went together into the synagogue of the Jews, and so spake, that a great multitude both of the Jews and also of the Greeks believed.' (Acts 14:1.) . . . Many other examples might be given illustrative of the same fact; indeed there is not a single example on record where faith came not in this way."
Is Faith the Gift of God?
Many well-meaning Christians who recognize the force of the Scriptures mentioned in the preceding suggested for the reason that this view of faith seems to them to teach that the man who exercises faith does thereby in some way merit salvation at least in part. Such reason that if the testimony only is of God, and the belief of that testimony is of man, and this. results in his salvation, it would appear that his salvation under such circumstances could not be entirely of God's grace. Man, himself, has contributed something; he has contributed faith, and thereby partly earned the salvation brought him. But a man may be said to be maintained by his hands and nourished by his mouth when in reality it is his food and drink which sustains him. So the Gospel, yea, Christ the sum and substance of that, Gospel, is our food .and drink, and is received by faith, the "hand of the heart."' Faith "has absolutely nothing to do with earning the gift of God, the water and bread of God; it has all to do with taking it. This we shall see open out before us as we proceed."
One very much misunderstood text representing faith is found in Ephesians 2:8, "By grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God." Is faith the thing here said. to be the gift of God? "The erroneous thought given by many is that our faith is not our own faith, not of our own volition, but an impartation, a gift from God. Of course, in one sense every gift and blessing which we enjoy is indirectly if not directly from God; Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights.' (Jas. 1:17.) But the proper understanding of the Apostle's words; we believe, is this: It is of God's grace and not of personal merit on our part that salvation is offered to us as a reward of faith (including true faith's obedience) yet we cannot even boast respecting our faith as though it merited the Lord's favor, for our faith is something which is the indirect result of Divine providence also; there are millions of others in the world who might exercise just as much faith as we if they had been favored of God with as much light, intelligence, knowledge, as a basis of faith: hence our faith is not to be credited as a meritorious condition, but we are to be thankful to God for it, for the circumstances and conditions which have made it possible for us to exercise faith are of His grace."
bewildered much by men who meant
(Continued from last issue)
THOUGH Luther came from parentage of very lowly circumstances, his father it was said was a. hard laborer, a woodcutter and a miner,* yet his parents were evidently of noble birth, and their lives showed distinctly the marks of strong and upright Christian characters. The historian relates that Martin Luther's father, John Luther, "was an upright man, diligent in business, frank, and carrying the firmness of his character even to obstinacy. With a more cultivated mind than that of most men of his class, he used to read much. Books were then rare; but John omitted no opportunity of procuring them. They formed his relaxation in the intervals of repose, snatched from his severe and constant labors. Margaret [his wife] possessed all the virtues that can adorn a good and pious woman. Her modesty, her fear of God, and her prayerful spirit, were particularly remarked. She was looked upon by the matrons of the neighborhood as a model whom they should strive to imitate."
* "My parents," said the Reformer, "were very poor. My father was a poor wood-cutter, and my mother has often carried wood upon her back, that she might ]procure the means of bringing up her children. They endured the severest labor for our sakes."
As would have been expected of godly parents, they gave earnest attention to rearing their son Martin in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. "As soon as he was old enough to receive instruction, his parents endeavored to impart to him the knowledge of God, to train him up in His fear, and to mold him Io Christian virtues. They extered all their care in this earliest domestic education. The father would often kneel at their child's bedside, and fervently pray aloud, begging the Lord that his son might remember His name and one day contribute to the propagation of the truth. The parent's prayer was most graciously listened to. And yet his tender solicitude was not confined to this."
In the Days of His Youth
Receiving during his first years, instructions from his parents in the knowledge of God (a knowledge inspiring something of reverence and perhaps much of fear) and in the Christian virtues, he was then taken while yet a small child, to a school, carried in the arms of his father or a family friend. Something of the determination that would in riper days be used to the glory of God seems to have been his in his tenderer years, and Luther's parents, fearful perhaps that in sparing the rod they might spoil the lad, were firm even to unjust severity.
At school also the future Reformer was sternly punished, receiving on one clay, it is alleged, fifteen floggings. "We mast," said Luther, when relating this circumstance- "we must whip children, but we must at the same time love them," It is not to be wondered at that with such strict discipline Luther, early in his life, learned to despise the charms of a merely sensual life, and one of his biographers wrote: "What is to become great, should begin small, and if children are brought up too delicately and with too much kindness from their youth, they are injured for life."
Along with other studies in his childhood days at school, Luther was taught the Ten Commandments, the Lord's Prayer, the Apostles' Creed, some hymns, and some forms of prayer. "But it appears," says the historian, "that the child was not yet led to God. The only religious feeling that he manifested was that of fear. Every time that he heard Jesus Christ spoken of, he turned pale with terror; for He had been represented to him only as an angry judge. This servile fear which is so far removed from true religion, perhaps prepared his mind for the good tidings of the Gospel, and for that joy which, he afterwards felt when he learned to know Christ as meek and lowly of heart."
Hardships and Privations
It was when Lather had reached the age of fourteen years that his father, ambitious for the son to attain the best scholarship of that time, resolved to part with him and send him to the Franciscan school at Magdeburg. His mother was forced to consent, and Martin prepared to quit the paternal roof. Many privations and hardships attended the young life in this new world in which he found himself. He was cast upon his own resources, inasmuch as the labor of his father could provide only for the remainder of the family at home. And so at times, with other boys as poor as himself, Luther was obliged to beg his daily bread; and it was then that often in place of the requested bread harsh treatment was given them, and in sequence he would shed tears of discouragement and humiliation.
But Luther, far from regretting the hardness of his early student days, or feeling shame that he had been forced in his struggle for knowledge to beg bread, thanked God that this had been so. The heights reached were the richer, the resultant vision more glorious, for the strength-giving hindrances of that upward climb. In God alone could the Christian scholar glory, whose hand had prepared the cup so necessary for the preparation of His chosen messenger.
When Luther had reached his 18th year, his father, now in snore favorable circumstances, decided to send him to the University of Erfurth. Here he began to study the philosophy of the time, a philosophy which he in later years looked upon with abhorrence. With his fine intelligence and retentive memory, he soon distinguished himself at the university and his genius was greatly admired by his associates. But not alone for the academical degree of a bachelor did he study. There was in him a thoughtful heart that reached upward, above and beyond mere earthly culture. He felt his great dependence on God, and each morning offered up a prayer for Divine blessing upon his labors. He often was heard to say that to pray well was the better half of study.
Luther Finds the Bible
His spare moments from regular duties were spent in the University library. One day while he was opening one volume after another and examining the title pages, he came upon one unlike any he had ever seen before. What intense drama, what transcendent issues, what infinite events, lie in that moment as the young student curiously lifts the outer cover of the book! History gives a thrilling account of this occurrence: "He reads the title -- it is a Bible! a rare book, unknown at that time. His interest is strongly excited; he is filled with astonishment at finding more in this volume than those fragments of the Gospels and Epistles which the Church has selected to be read to the people in their places of worship every Sunday in the year. Till then he had thought that they were the whole Word of God. And here are so many pages, so many chapters, so many books, of which he had no idea! His heart beats as he holds in his hand all the Scriptures divinely inspired. With eagerness and indescribable feelings he turns over these leaves of God's Word. The first page that arrests his attention, relates the history of Hannah and the young Samuel. He reads, and can scarcely restrain his joyful emotion. This child whom his parents lend to the Lord as long as he liveth; Hannah's song in which she declares that the Lord raiseth up the poor out of the dust and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set him among princes; the young Samuel who grows up in the temple before the Lord; all this history, all this revelation which he has discovered, excites feelings till then unknown. He returns home with a full heart. Oh,' thought he, if God would but give me such a book for my own.' Luther did not yet understand either Greek or Hebrew. It is not possible that he should have studied those languages during the first two or three years of his residence in the university. The Bible that filled him with such transport was in Latin. He soon returned to the library to find his treasure again. He read and re-read, and then in his surprise and joy, he went back to read again. The first gleams of a new truth then arose in his mind.
"Thus has God caused him to find His Word! He has now discovered that book of which he is one day to give to his countrymen, that admirable translation in which the Germans for three centuries have read the oracles of God. For the first time, perhaps, this precious volume has been removed from the place that it occupied in the library at Erfurth. This book, deposited upon the unknown shelves of a dark room, is soon to become the book of life to a whole nation. The Reformation lay hid in that Bible."
Retreats to the Monastery
The thirst for learning which was Luther's, had been satisfied, but a new hunger assailed him; he began to feel a great concern for his soul. Death and eternity lay at the end of the road whose length each passing day diminished. Could he, with sinful soul, appear before a just and holy judge? He must attain holiness but how? Thoughts of a monastic life now appeal to him: shut away from the world and its ambitions, he can surely purify his desires, and overcome the faults that so beset him.
One day while nearing Erfurth on his way from a visit in the parental home at Mansfield, he was overtaken by a violent electrical storm. The lightning cut jagged streaks in the sky, the thunders. crashed, and a thunder-bolt struck the ground very near to him. In terror he realized that at any moment and without warning, death may strike even him in the full strength of years. He promises God if He will spare his life, he will give his days to His service. True to that promise according to his understanding, he bids farewell to his regretful and astonished school friends and enters the convent of the hermits of the order of St. Augustine.
Nothing of the future Reformer was in this act. He, as others, blindly followed the superstition of the time and sought to bring about salvation in, self by works and observances. There was at that time in Luther no realization that in God alone lies salvation. And yet, to the All-seeing eye, the experiences of convent life would prove but a further schooling to the mind and heart in preparation, and thus the blindness of man as well as his wrath be used to God's glory.
While the monks received him joyfully at first, and felt much gratification at this eminent scholar forsaking the greatest institution of learning to enter their cloister, yet, either through envy or with a desire to properly humble this learned doctor of philosophy, they assigned him to the meanest of tasks, and when these were finished a bag was given him and he was sent out to beg food.
His Search after God and Holiness
However, it was evidently not God's purpose to permit this chosen servant to have his talents buried in the various menial and useless tasks forever; so at the request of the University he was permitted to continue his studies. He turned to such books as the work of St. Augustine; he sought for an understanding of true piety. And while he understood but little of the Word of God to which he had constant recourse, still it was his midst absorbent study. In fact so much time was given in this direction that he found himself neglecting some of the required observances, prayers, etc. Then in alarm he would shut himself up, and without food or sleep, attempt to redeem by constant prayers and application, the omission of observance to the rules of his order. In fact the historian goes on to say that "burning with the desire after that holiness Which he sought in the cloister, Luther gave himself up to all the rigor of an ascetic life." He endeavored by fastings, lacerations, watchings, etc., to crucify the flesh; he contented himself with the poorest food, and would go for days without eating or drinking. Nothing was too great a sacrifice at the period we speak of for the sake of becoming holy to gain heaven.
But the man who was to become the world's renowned Reformer did not find in the tranquility of the cloister and in monkish perfection, the peace that he so earnestly sought. And so the historian goes on to say, "This was the great want of his soul; without it he could not rest. But the fears which had shaken him in the world, pursued him to his cell. Nay, more, they increased there, and the least cry of his conscience seemed to resound beneath the vaulted roofs of the cloister. God had led him thither, that he might learn to know himself, and to despair of his own strength or virtues. His conscience, enlightened by the Divine Word, taught him what it was to be holy; but he was filled with terror at finding, neither in his heart nor in his life, the transcript of that holiness which he contemplated with wonder in the Word of God. Melancholy discovery! and one that is made by every sincere man. No righteousness within;. no righteousness in outward action; everywhere omission of duty -- sin, pollution. The more ardent Luther's natural character, the more powerful was this secret and constant resistance of his nature to that which is good, and the deeper did it plunge him into despair . . . . I tormented myself to death,' says he, to procure for my troubled heart and agitated conscience peace in the presence of God: but encompassed with thick darkness, I nowhere found peace."'
Some Pious Souls Who Shone Brightly
He, within the walls of a cloister, was finding that the remedies for sin which he had believed from his early youth to be efficacious were useless. He had donned a new garment and entered a sanctuary, but his heart remained the same. All the prescribed observances and acts of penance that had had the approval of the Church for centuries did not give his guilty conscience peace. He felt that his need lie in the Gospel which is the voice of God, and he searched untiringly the messages of the Apostles and Prophets. Luther was not the only monk who had passed through this sorrow. Even in those monasteries where evil existed to a great degree there were some of upright Christian character, pious. souls who shone brightly although often unknown except to each other and to God. But when one of these was called to some important post outside, then those virtues became manifest and the influence was widely shed.
We read of another, John Staupitz, in this connection, from one of the German convents. His experience was similar evidently to that of Luther, and at length finding nothing in ordinary studies that would assist toward eternal salvation and bring him into that relationship and touch with God that his soul desired, he also was led to study the Bible and the writings of those masters of Divine truth that had the effect of imparting spiritual illumination and the true knowledge of God. Concerning this man Staupitz we further read that "he found in faith in Christ, peace to his soul. The doctrine of the Election by Grace especially engaged his thoughts. The uprightness of his life, the depth of his learning, the eloquence of his speech, no less than a striking exterior and dignified manners, recommended him to his contemporaries."
Light Dawns upon His Soul
John Staupitz saw and was deeply grieved by the corrupt morals and the doctrinal errors in the Church, but the former evil seemed much worse to him than the latter. He had been now made Vicar-general of the Augustines for all Germany. Arriving at the convent of Erfurth on the regular visit of inspection, he noticed a monk sunken-eyed, wasted with much fasting, his face marked with inner conflicts and sadness. Staupitz, having suffered also, understood, and feeling drawn toward him, approached him affectionately, hoping to gain his confidence. Luther responded to the kind advances and unburdened his heart to his benevolent superior, "It is in vain," he said, "that I make promises to God; sin is always too strong for me." To which the gentle Staupitz answered, "Oh, my friend, I have vowed to the holy God more than a thousand times that I would live a holy life, and never have I kept my vow! I now make no more vows, for I know well that I shall not keep them. If God will not be merciful to me for Christ's sake, and grant me a happy death when I leave this world, I cannot, with all my vows and good works stand before Him. I must perish."
Luther tells him of his terror at the very thought of Divine justice. The great majesty and unspeakable holiness of God fill his soul with awe and fear. "Why," said Staupitz, "do you distress yourself with these speculations and high thoughts? Look to the wounds of Jesus Christ, to the blood which He has shed for you; it is there you will see the mercy of God. Instead of torturing yourself for your faults, cast yourself into the arms of the Redeemer. Trust in Him -- in the righteousness of His life, in the expiatory sacrifice of His death. Do not shrink from Him; God is not against you; it is you who are estranged and averse from God.
There is no true repentance but that which begins in the love of God and of righteousness . . . . In order to be filled with the love of that which is good, you must first be filled- with the love of God. If you wish to be really converted, do not follow these mortifications and penances. Love Him who has wised first loved you."
The consoling words of Staupitz seemed to the hear of Luther to be the words of the Savior to him. In the light of these words he carefully consulted the Scriptures and the passages on repentance which had been a dread to him, now became rays of comfort. The good Vicar-general now advised him to lay aside all systems of study and consult the Scriptures alone. This best of all advice Luther eagerly followed. Great was his delight when Staupitz presented him with a Bible. Now he himself possessed the treasure which hitherto he had been obliged to read in the library of the university or at a chains end in the convent.
(To be continued)
SHOULD NOT God's own Word satisfy every inquiring mind touching Divine guidance all the way through life?
Has He not said, "Acknowledge Him in all thy ways, and He shall direct thy paths." -- Prov. 3 :6.
"The Lord will guide thee continually." -- Isa.11:58.
"He will be our guide, even unto death." -- Psa. 48:14.
"Thou shalt guide me with Thy counsel." --Psa. 73:24.
"The meek will He guide in judgment." -- Psa. 25:9.
This guidance in judgment will be God's guidance for the knowing o£ His will. As we honor Him by perfect obedience and submission of spirit, He takes into His own hand the direction of our way, and calls on us only to follow the Leader, who will make plain paths for our feet through all the journey.
How shall I know the voice as God's voice?
As well ask How know the voice of a most intimate friend or companion? Has not intimacy with that friend in familiar converse, as you have walked in companionship together, made the voice to be as well known as your own? Cultivate, then, like intimacy with God, walk with Him and talk with Him hour by hour, and in the freedom you have with a personal friend. Cultivate such a sense of His living presence that you will learn to speak to Him, as well as of Him, most freely and without embarrassment. Living thus in companionship with God, for companionship implies converse, you will learn to know God's voice when He speaks; and as you bring all your thoughts into captivity to the obedience of Christ, habituating yourself to speak to Him of all that you do, holding nothing back, you will find it most easy to lay down the task in which you may be engaged, at any moment, to hold intercourse with Jesus as your loving friend.. Living thus, you will not fail to know God's voice when He speaks to you.
Then, again, with your soul baptized in love-in the love of the Lord Jesus-you will live in such an assurance of God's love to you, that there will be no question in your mind as to His responding to the longing desire of your heart to know His will. Thus, you will be at rest, assured He will no more fail in this than in giving you your daily bread. As well may you question your receiving salvation as Divine guidance, and that up to the full measure of your faith in His own words of promise, for they are as full and complete.
Again. How recognize the voice as God's voice amid the confusion that comes from another spirit than the good Spirit of God. John bids us "try the spirits, whether they are of God," and in referring us, in the trying, to the Word itself, we are told that the Spirit's confession of Christ -- exaltation of Christ -- in the exhibitions of His love, unerringly declare to be of God's good Spirit, so moving the heart that the voice will be known as God's voice. God speaks, then, not only by His Spirit, but by His Word, and with the eye single and the heart fixed on knowing His will, it will be revealed as His voice through the light the blessed Spirit sheds upon His Word.
If, then, there be in the heart a desire for guidance in any of the relative duties of life, Divine light will be shed upon every step of the way through the Word, under the illuminating power of the Spirit. God's words are made living words, and will be spoken afresh as His voice expressing His will, as certainly as we ask, expecting to know it. In singleness of eye for God's glory the Holy Spirit purifies the vision; the scales fall; we see clearly; we know God's will, for the voice is His to us, and in the consciousness that our steps are ordered of the Lord, we testify that "He leadeth us."
The result, then, of carrying "everything to God in prayer," everything pertaining to this life, that you may know His will, desiring obediently to do it, will beget such a susceptibility to hear the slightest whisper that you will learn to know it as clearly as the father of our race knew God's voice, spoken to him in the cool of the evening, as he walked in the Garden of Eden.
And then, in the depth of your consciousness, you will find yourself learning to catch the reverberation of His voice in every sound of nature, in the intervals of thought, as they come in the occupations of life. If you have the first lessons to learn in Divine guidance, read the eighth and tenth verses of the 143rd Psalm, and with those on your lips take the matter on which you would have light to God. Ask Him to guide you; and with no will of your own, no choice as to the pathway, trusting everything to God, while silently waiting to hear His voice, as God is true it will be given you to know His will. You will hear it saying, "This is the way; walk ye in it." As you enter upon the doing of it, opposing obstacles will disappear, for the voice of God's providence is in unison with that of the Spirit and the Word. -- Selected.
Following our usual custom, we are announcing at this time the date for the observance of the Lord's Supper as indicated by the Hebrews. According to the Jewish Calendar this year, Nisan 14 fails on Wednesday, April 1st, but the day begins at sundown of the evening before. Hence the proper time for partaking of the emblems would be on the evening of March 31st. As we have heretofore noted, in determining the exact beginning of the Jewish Ecclesiastical year, which is governed by the phases of the moon, there is involved a number of considerations; and various minds equally bright, dealing with the question often reach different conclusions as to exactly when the month Nisan should be regarded as commencing, and as to what date, should be decided upon for observing the Supper. We have therefore. .adopted the custom, of accepting the reckoning as found in the Jewish Calendar, which is prepared by the highest Hebrew authorities. This custom Brother Russell also adopted the last years of his life. We are accordingly recommending the observance of the Lord's Supper on the evening of March 31st, after 6 p.m., corresponding to the night that our Lord instituted the Memorial, presenting to His disciples the emblems suggestive of His flesh and blood as the antitype of Israel's Passover lamb, as saith the Master; -- "This cup is the new testament in My blood, . . . drink ye all of it."
To the various suggestions we have made in recent months with regard to reaching out after and assisting other brethren, there has been a generally encouraging response; and we take this opportunity to express heartiest appreciation of the loving:, zeal and. cooperation on the part of those who have ordered and are distributing the leaflet, "A Message to the Watchers," which presents a sympathetic word in season four our brethren with whom we were formerly associated.
We have gladly mailed the leaflet and sample copies, of the "Herald" to the good list of addresses received from all parts of the country. Many of these have already been heard from favorably since sending the literature, requesting further reading matter or enclosing their subscription to the "Herald;" assuring us in that connection that they are being assisted to discern the leading of the Lord and His will concerning them at this time. We are sure this word will specially, encourage those who have been active in harmony with the suggestion made. We are therefore impressed to urge the friends everywhere to continue this cooperation by passing the "Message" leaflet and sample issues of the "Hera1d" on to other brethren, and to forward us addresses.
The other tracts, together with the special "Herald" treating the subject of Hell, etc. for general public use, are also being ordered and distributed by a goodly number. We can think of no better method of letting our light shine and thus endeavoring to comfort all who mourn. It will be in season here to suggest that in sending us lists of addresses for literature; you specify which are the interested and familiar with Present truth, and which have not heretofore been brought in contact with it, as such information will govern in what will be mailed to them. Let us be awake to our privileges of the ministry, and thus render a good account o ourselves as stewards of the manifold Mysteries of God.
Dear Brethren in Christ;
Once again it is time to send the "Herald" subscription, and I am enclosing a list for same. There are one or two changes this year. Enclosed also is a Money Order for £_____, the small balance to be put to the "Herald" fund.
We were all very pleased to see in the September 1st issue, the decision you arrived at regarding any change in the "Herald" ministry. How slow some of the Lord's dear people are, to learn lessons from past experiences, and how natural it seems for some to think that they must be "working" to help on the Lord. As it is put in that little article Man's energy humanly organized in the Church," -- seems to express the position well. Surely after all these years in the "School"; we should know by now, that our Lord is thoroughly capable of guiding, and directing and overruling in His work, and in the lives of His people, so that none of us need be over anxious or seek to bring about that which the Lord is not doing.
The Narrow Way seems to get more and more narrow; and the matters which come up for consideration get finer and more trying, and the points to be decided upon get nearer the dividing line between right and wrong. However, if we are to be true to the principles of righteousness, then we must always be on the right side of that dividing line, even if we are considered narrow and unloving by our brethren who do not see just as we do.
May the dear brethren of the "Herald" ministry be enabled by the Lord's grace, to maintain a firm stand for these principles, and help others in their stand-for indeed the days are evil.
With our united love,. end best wishes in the Lord,
Your sister by His grace,
J. C. -- Scot.
Greetings in the Master's name.
I am enclosing $_____ for 200 tracts, and if you have any free tracts, we can use them and would be pleased to have them. The people surely do enjoy the tracts. We give them out only to those who would be interested in them. There is a Brother and Sister in our Class now that came, into the Truth through one of your tracts.
I am greatly enjoying the "Herald," and if you happen to have a Pilgrim around this vicinity, we will surely go to hear him . . . .
We pray the Lord's blessing upon, you as you continue to serve Him.
T. McK. -- Ill.
VOL. XIV. February 15, 1931 No. 4
"A Look Ahead"
AS WE pass through the portals into the new year and look about us, we observe that public men are frank to acknowledge that the general outlook in the world has been and is one of deep gloom, that there is not very much to be seen an the horizon to give encouragement and hope. Nevertheless, it is to the credit of the intelligence of our time that many leaders and men who are influential in directing the thoughts of multitudes, are hopeful and buoyant rather than disconsolate and despondent. And there is at this time a strong tendency to look up and forward rather than down and backward. Further, it is being pointed out that the atmosphere will clear financially and industrially and that the outlook and conditions will improve within a reasonable time. As an example of this attitude we quote from a recent issue of the "Boston Herald":
"Psychology of Fear"
"The mists of 1930 have been so low and heavy that many Americans have lost their sense of location and direction They wonder whether they are not in a vale of depression from which they can never work loose to the sunny hills, which they knew in ether days. Many whose incomes have not been affected in the least by declining stock market or by conditions of unemployment are apprehensíve of the future.
"'Timidity, lack of self-confidence, and the psychology of fear' pervade many communities. The very continuance of depression and the absence of any indisputable signs that the era of prosperity is just ahead have affected people seriously. Students of the situation believe that a long step toward recovery would be taken if this uneasiness as to the future could somehow be removed. There will probably not be a resumption of prosperity until the great mass of the people are more receptive to it.
"A comparison of conditions here and abroad shows how fortunate Americans have really been, even in the last year. An examination of our lot in 1930 with that in the lush years of easy prosperity gives little cause for complaint. Materially, we are still the envy of the rest of the world. The homely things which make for physical ease and contentment are far more abundant here than elsewhere. The statisticians of the First National Bank of Boston -- and statisticians of great banking houses do not see the world through rose-colored glasses -- sums up a few factors of the situation in a recent New England letter. He says:
"The great masses of people in this country enjoy more comforts and luxuries than did royalty of a century ago. Under this system the United States with a population of less than seven per cent of the world's total has approximately twenty-six million automobiles, or 75 per cent of those moving an the world's highways. Six out of every ten telephones in the world are found in the offices and homes of this country. About nineteen million homes are lighted by electricity. The purchasing power of the country has shown a tremendous increase; the average wage earner in 1929 was able to buy 40 per cent more goods than in 1914, while our national income has more than doubled during the past two decades.
"It is inconceivable that the future development of the country should be fundamentally different from that of the last generation or two. The basic factors are still the same -- raw wealth, organization, civic peace, sturdy stock, genius for invention, a free field for initiative and individuality, immunity from attacks by enemies. Facing the new year, one may feel with confidence that the fogs will lift and that the land of joy,' as a foreign writer has characterized the United States, cannot continue as a land of gloom.
"The country is certain to be better prepared than ever before to cope with the adverse influences which have floored us for the time being . . . . It is safe to say that we shall not repeat for a long time the errors which brought the troubles to a head. There will be fewer attempts to discount and cash in on the future. Employment will be stabilized: Public work programs will be prepared long in advance and put into operation as soon as danger threatens. Citizens will realize once more the virtues of plain thrift."
"Cognizant of the Dangers Ahead"
WHILE it is entirely proper and to the world's advantage in some respects that they are planning and anticipating better and happier circumstances, yet there is still higher advantage, in being enabled to take the most comprehensive view and in looking carefully beneath the surface of things, especially as indicated by the more sure Word of Prophecy. Without doubt God is preparing great things -- a feast of fat things for all people is the way the Prophet designates it. But to prepare men for a proper enjoyment of these coming things when they shall be ushered in, it is the Divine program to administer a season of severest discipline, after which He will turn to the people a pure language and His Kingdom will then become the desire of all nations. It is significant today that some of the world's thoughtful and wise, sense something of this dark period of trouble .approaching before the full sunrise of the Morning appears. As bearing upon this point, the following, taken from "The Evangelical Christian," will be read with much interest:
"Whether one looks on the startling events taking place in the world today in the light of prophetic setting or not, one can hardly fail to be impressed by the tremendous changes taking place and the seething forces at work beneath the surface, making for the overthrow of stabilized government and all that Christians hold most dear. No one need have any doubt regarding the course of the age if he. has an eye to see the trend of events and a mind to understand their significance. The stream of history is approaching a cataract, and the nations are caught in a current that bears them on to -- what? Statesmen who make no profession of Christianity whatever are fully cognizant of the dangers ahead. They are talking today of a year that they designate by the algebraic letter 'X.' It is the unknown quantity, that beyond which they refuse to look or prognosticate. It is also, they believe, a year in the near future, lying between 1930 and 1940. What does it mean? Simply this: That there is a year in the very near future that statesmen feel is going to be disastrous to the human race; a year in which a cataclysm they see coming, will burst; a year when the dogs of war will be unleashed again and the whole world, perhaps, be in arms anal engaged: in desperate strife. This is not pessimism: It is a facing of the cold, hard facts that are, everywhere apparent in the world today -- facts, that it is worse than folly to ignore.
"There are tremendous forces around us today -- political, social, moral, and religious, that are working to bring this condition about. Mussolini's vaulting ambition is almost daily imperiling the peace of Europe; France and Italy are simply snarling at each other's heels; the Balkans are seething with unrest; and a week or two ago Austria cancelled all leave of her soldiers in anticipation of trouble. But the most grim reminder in recent days of the creeping shadow in the political realm was the German elections held in September, when Fascism and Bolshevism stalked. across the election boards and swept the Government to defeat. For a day or so something like a panic seized upon Europe, until Chancellor Bruening stated he would form a coalition of all other parties to beat off the assaults of the 224 votes of Fascists and Communists.
"Ten years ago such a thing was unthinkable, but a decade brings many changes in the field of politics, and what was deemed incredible in 1920 has become an actuality in 1930."
The Situation in Palestine"
CONDITIONS in Palestine have been considerably at a standstill of recent months, due to some extent no doubt to the Arab problem. And the position taken by the English Government who holds the mandate for Palestine is not regarded as favorable from the Jewish standpoint. In a review of the matter presented in the December number of "The Evangelical Christian," the situation is summed up to date:
"Since the late Lord Balfour made his famous declaration that Great Britain would assume the mandate for Palestine and secure it as a Jewish national home, the Christian world has watched with interest the developments taking place in the Holy Land. When the scheme was first launched, Jewish immigration into Palestine proceeded apace and the dream of re-establishing this ancient people in their own land seemed in a fair way to being completely realized. Then came the trouble with the Arabs over a year ago. This was followed by the appointment of the Shaw Commission by the British Government to investigate the situation and prepare a report, on which the Government intended to base its future action. That the MacDonald Government has modified considerably its attitude towards the National Homeland' since the troubles in Palestine, appears to be beyond question from the Statement of Policy it has issued. That the Government had any intention, however, of repudiating the Balfour pledge, we do not for a moment believe.
"The difficulties surrounding the situation in Palestine are many. Contrasted with the few thousands of Jews there, there is an Arab population of probably between 8,000,000 and 9,000,000. Then, again, we have the striking difference in temperament and outlook, found in both of these people. The Jew is thrifty, industrious, aggressive; the Arab is shiftless, nomadic, and lazy. With the influx of the Jews, the Arabs see the land. developing and prospering under the genius, capital, and hard work of this extraordinary people. There is a little doubt that these factors have incited a spirit of jealousy in Arab hearts that found an expression, as every one knows, in the fighting at the Wailing Wall in August, 1929. In its present attitude the British Government seems inclined to devote more attention to the Arabs than to the Jews, in an endeavor to placate these wild and unruly sons of Ishmael.
"It is a serious situation without a doubt, and. one that is aggravated by the resignation of Dr. Chaim Weismann as head of the Zionist Movement. Lord Melchett (better known, perhaps, as Sir Alfred Mond), another prominent Jew, has also resigned from the Jewish National Agency as a protest against the British policy, while protests have been sent to Downing Street from all over the world. These resignations have followed the publication of the report of Sir John Hope Simpson on the policy of His Majesty's Government. It is claimed by the Jews that if the recommendations are carried out, it will mean an end of the Government's promise to re-establish the Jews in their homeland.
"It is interesting at this time to recall the services that Dr. Weizmann rendered to the British Empire during the critical years of the Great War. By some people he was claimed to be one of the men who had saved the Empire. It was said that when offered a reward by Lloyd George for his striking services to Great Britain, all that he requested was the interest of the little Welshman in the Jewish scheme for securing Palestine as the national home of the Jews.
"The whole situation is fraught with difficulties, not to say dangers. It would be indeed regrettable if the MacDonald ministry should in any shape or form seek to repudiate the pledge made by Lord Balfour; and while any such suggestion is strongly denied by the Labor ministry, there seems to be little doubt that the new Statement of Policy modifies considerably the attitude of Great Britain towards the whole scheme.
"That the Jew will yet secure possession of his own land, we firmly believe; not because of any promise or statement made by any government, but because it is so written down in the Word of God."
Verifies the Book of Daniel
LONDON, Jan. 9 -- Startling discoveries by C. Leonard Wooley, director of a joint expedition of the University of Pennsylvania and the British Museum, which is excavating the ancient glories of Ur of the Chaldees, give definite confirmation to the Book of Daniel, according to Sir Charles Marston, archeologist, who has financed many expeditions to old Biblical sites. He said today that Mr. Wooley's discoveries showed the probability of the Book of Daniel having been written at the same time with the events recorded.
"Mr. Wooley has discovered the pace of Princess Bel Shalti Nanna, and it is possible that this will lead to some interesting developments in our knowledge of Bible history,' Sir Charles said. This princess is believed to have been the sister of King Belshazzar of Babylon, whose great feast was interrupted by the writing on the wall. Their grandfather, Nebuchadnezzar, the conqueror of Jerusalem, tack the Jews captive back to Babylon. Archeology has proved that this sack of the holy City did take place, and it is quite feasible that the captive Daniel may have seen Belshazzar's palace.
"Many Biblical archeologists have doubted the authenticity of the Book of Daniel, but this discovery does much to confirm the historical accuracy of the story of King Belshazzar. Cuneiform writings of the sixth century B. C. inscribed on clay tablets nearly 2,500 years ago, have already been deciphered, giving clear-cut evidence of the reality of Belshazzar and remarkable confirmation of the subject matter of the fifth chapter of the Book of Daniel. I believe the fifth chapter of the Book of Daniel ranks next to cuneiform literature in accuracy, so far as outstanding events are concerned.
"Those who have studied the Bible know that the Book of Daniel does not end with King, Belshazzar's dramatic death, but record's Daniel's' subsequent life in the MedoPersian period. There seems to be a good deal about when the Persian religious leader, Zoroaster, actually lived. One is tempted to trace a connection between his faith and that of the Prophet Daniel.
SOME one has passed on to us a number of wise sayings that will be profitable for all to consider, and we are reminded of the words of Scripture in this connection: "Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter anything before God; for God is in heaven, and thou upon, earth: therefore let they words be few."
"A pamphlet published by Antioch College quotes Mark Twain as saying that we have three blessings -- freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and good sense not to use either.
"The pamphlet further goes an to state that paper constitutions may confer absolute rights, but in the constitutional society all rights are relative and must be exercised with discretion.
"It is a wise man that does not tell all he knows nor say all he thinks.
"There is a difference between keeping still for some base or venal reason, because we are afraid to speak, and maintaining silence because silence. is better than words.
"There is many a situation saved by holding one's tongue.
"Anything that we can say may be answered, but it is difficult to answer that which is not said.
"We often do not take enough account of the reaction of the people. All that any one has to do is to get abused enough anal he becomes popular. The public mind instinctively champions the cause of one who is universally condemned. When we keep still we take this disposition of the public into account, for when we do not defend ourselves, others will naturally come to our defense.
"There are more senses than one in which it is true that discretion is the better part of valor.
"We raise up a good many enemies against us unnecessarily by talking too much. Not only does a man imperil his job very frequently by his loose speech, but he creates unnecessary antagonisms.
"This may be tried out in the family. The next time your wife or husband says a thing you do not like, do not made the obvious answer, but keep still. Silence you will find to be the best retaliation.
"It is a wise man who knows how to make allowance for the statements of others. People are led to extravagance and extreme remarks. We should understand them well enough to know their natures and not to assume that they meant all they said.
"Under the influence of great emotion or a sudden crisis people may be led to say things they do not mean or that they would not say upon sober reflection. It is well for us to know this and not to hold a man responsible for everything he says.
"In the heat of a debate often things are said, gestures made beyond what the facts call for, and a wise tolerance takes these things into account.
"Most extreme statements cure themselves, and if we let them alone they will produce their own reaction, whereas if we try to contradict them we only make a bad matter worse.
"Don't contradict and don't argue. Try to state your case simply and succinctly and let it go at that. If people are not influenced by a plain statement of your facts, they will not be influenced by your eloquence or your over-statements.
the God of all grace,, who hath called us unto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus; after
that ye have suffered a while, make you
TRULY the Scriptures inform us that the present heritage of the Christian is one of peace, love, joy, and rejoicing in the Holy Spirit. Responding to the Master's invitation "Come unto Me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest," the true disciple realizes the peace of God and the rest of soul promised in His Holy Word. But this does not mean that all sorrows and troubles are ended and that she has entered the Beulah Land of rest and peace, henceforth never again to be disturbed. Such would be a very much mistaken impression; for the Scriptures constantly associate with the Christian life, experiences of trials, disciplines, sufferings, and testings of faith in preparation for the great change that will bring the final deliverance into the presence of our glorious King.
The thought of discipline, of suffering and chastening in the Narrow Way is not only in keeping with the Divine purpose concerning the Church's present career, but additionally, the adversary of God and man is not disposed to let the children of light walk on undisturbed into the Heavenly Kingdom. Because, against that Kingdom and its establishment and against all its prospective probationary heirs, he is an inveterate enemy, and his power is not yet restrained. The children of light, the heirs of the Kingdom are therefore the special targets against which his fiery darts are aimed. As soon as they escape from the kingdom of darkness and begin to walk in the light, they may expect to find snares spread for their feet, stumbling-blocks placed in their way, and a variety of experiences that will mean trial and. testing.
Truth only for the Upright in Heart
Plainly we are told that God not only permits, but that He also desires that the faith of His professed people should be thoroughly tested. And there is but one conclusion to be reached with regard to those who undertake the Christian life but drop out by the way, or who fail to meet properly the conditions of discipleship. Many indeed receive the truth and grace of the Lord very much as a child receives a new toy. It is a curiosity, something new to be enjoyed for a season and then laid aside, to be superseded by something that temporarily pleases the fancy. Or the Truth is valued as a cudgel wherewith to gain the honors of victory in argument with disputing opponents. Or again, it affords relief to some from long imposed bondage to fear, because of misapprehension respecting the future, and for this alone it is deeply valued. Evidently such never did enjoy a position of nearness to the Lord in fellowship with Him, nor have they enjoyed the prospect of heavenly glory, and often feared that they were not quite good enough to escape an unhappy future and ultimately to lie admitted into the heavenly home.
Manifest it is that those who thus lightly esteem the Divine blessing merely to minister to their selfishness are unworthy of it, and it is the will of God that all such should lose it. Hence the divinely permitted and desired testing of faith to make manifest, who has the unselfish, consecrated spirit of devotion to the Lord, and who are of a reverse attitude. The truth concerning the grace of God was never intended for the listless or the ungrateful. "Light is sown for the righteous and joy for the upright in heart."
But the true children of God love and treasure the Truth,. and realizing the object and purpose of God in giving it to them, they humble themselves under His mighty hand and give close attention to what He has offered them of Divine instruction. They learn to love righteousness, to love their fellowmen, and desire to bless and help them. They recognize the importance of developing large benevolence and brotherly kindness. They are meek, too, and mot anxious to make a show of self and to glory over their fellows in arguments, nor are they merely curiosity-hunters. As they grow in faith and in those rich spiritual qualities of heart, they value the instruction of the Lord more and more; they prize it and meditate upon it. They view the Truth as a grand and systematic embodiment of the ideal of righteousness, love and benevolence.
Recognizing their call to the high office as Christ's joint-heirs and judges of the future world, all of these discern the wisdom of God in causing them to pass through the disciplining and pruning experiences of the Narrow Way as indicated in the path that Jesus trod.
"Nearer My God to Thee"
As the early disciples of Jesus began to realize the meaning of following Christ, that it signified a course of trial, hardship, difficulty, they prayed, "Lord, increase our faith." They evidently felt that to continue in the acceptable discipleship would necessitate a growing faith which would rise to every emergency of the Master's requirement, and they were quite right in their reasoning; for the Lord also clearly shows that the true disciple makes progress in the school of Christ toward the full overcoming of the spirit and influence of the world. And this progress can be achieved by faith only by such full, implicit confidence in His teaching and training as will keep them continually as earnest,, diligent pupils under His guidance and instruction. "This is the victory that overcometh the world, even your faith." This, by the way, is suggestive of what it signifies to be an overcomer, to whom pertain all the exceeding great and precious promises of the Gospel of Christ. It is simply this that day by day we attentively heed and patiently carry out the instructions of our infallible Teacher and Guide, in full, unquestioning faith in His wisdom and love; no matter how heavy will be the daily cross or how severe the discipline. It is indeed a tedious, life-long process, but the end will be glorious ; and even the daily discipline, patiently and meekly borne, will bring the precious reward of conscious progress in the great work of overcoming and of a nearer approach to the goal of a ripened Christian character. All of this is implied in the beautiful words so expressive of the faith and fervent devotion of true discipleship
"Nearer, my God,
to Thee, Nearer to Thee!
A Happy Illustration of a Victorious End
Such obedient followers of Christ have their eyes confidently fixed upon the goal; they are ever looking forward to the end of the race-course when their Master shall say, "It is enough." They fear not death, for they remember that the way to life and glory is the way of death. And having gone through the various processes of transformation to the character of Christ, it is with whole-hearted submission to the Divine will that they press on through the shadowy vale leading down to the mystical river. They are not fearful even in the presence of the Great Enemy, Death, for they know that they have by their side Him who said, "I am the Resurrection and the Life." And as the last drops of the earthly life are ebbing away, they can by faith sing of their delight in the sweet will of God.
Recently a sister wrote us of the passing of her daughter, whose consistency of Christian living and devotion to the Lord, to the end, was most impressive. Speaking of her closing hours in the hospital, the mother wrote: "When she was not in too much pain she talked to me, and Sunday night she said, Mother, in a few hours I will be enjoying more than any of you can realize. Of course I can't say just sure, but I feel that I will be a member of the Bride of Christ.' "
Describing the last moments as related by one of the nurses, as the end came:
"She asked the nurse if she might talk to her. The nurse assented. A_____ replied, It is, a wonderful thing to be a Christian when you come down to the end of life.' Then the nurse said she told her about a wonderful Plan God had; said it was so beautiful she wanted to hear and she feared she let her talk too long, and finally she told her she mast rest awhile. In a short time A_____ asked if she might tell her more, and she said she wished to hear, and allowed her to resume the talk until she felt A_____ must rest again.
"Then she said A_____ closed her eyes and began singing softly to herself a beautiful hymn of four verses. The nurse could not tell us what it was, but said it was beautiful. We think it was 105 in Millennial Dawn Hymnal,' as that was an especial favorite with her: If I in Thy likeness, O Lord, may awake, and shine a pure image of Thee,' etc.
"She said the ether nurses knew it was a critical case, and were all intensely interested in it, and as she sang, all of the nurses there at that time gathered in her room around her bed weeping. She said the song grew fainter and fainter, and with the end of the fourth verse, she was gone. She said of the nurses there, one was a Catholic, one a Lutheran, one a Christian Scientist, one a Baptist, one a Presbyterian, and another did not profess to be a Christian. One of the nurses spoke as the song died away; and said, We all have a religion good enough to live by, but she is the first person I ever saw who had a religion good enough to die by,' and she said every one agreed.
"Later, another sister of our Class was taken to the same hospital and had the same nurse that A_____ had. When the nurse found she was of the same faith, she told her she wished she knew more of A_____'s belief."
We Shall Find Rest at the End Sweeter
Such examples of Christian faith and fortitude constitute most eloquent witnesses of the power of the grace of God which enables His trusting child to realize that preparedness for the coining change, to recognize the value of suffering, and to pass through the same submissively unto the bitter end.
Another has given expression to thoughts along this line that touch a responsive cord in the hearts of those who have been some time in the Christian way:
"There are few who have taken a prominent place in the history of the Church of God whose course has not been marked in a special manner by vicissitude. Nor is this the case merely with prominent characters; almost every Christian be his past ever se retired and noiseless, knows something of this vicissitude. Indeed, it would seem as if no one could run the race which is marked out for the man of faith, without finding inequalities in his way. The path through the desert must be rough and it is well that it is so; for there is no right-minded person who would not rather be set in a rough than in a slippery way.' The Lord sees our need of being exercised by roughness and hardness, not only that we may find the rest at the end sweeter, but also that we may be the yore effectually trained and fitted for the place we are yet to occupy.
"True, we shall have no need for trials in the Kingdom but we shall have need of those graces and habits of soul which were formed amid the trials, and sorrows of the wilderness. We shall yet be constrained to acknowledge that our path here below was not a whit too rough, but that on the contrary we could not have done without a single exercise of all those that had fallen to our lot. We now see things indistinctly and are often unable to see the reason for many of our trials and sorrows; moreover, our impatient nature may often feel disposed to murmur and rebel; but only let us be patient and we shall be able without hesitation and with the full assent of every thought and feeling to say, He led us forth by a right way, that He might bring us to a city of habitation.'"
is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful."
IN THE very general use of the term steward, or servant, the thought of responsibility and faithful discharge of duty is always implied. The term in its full application embraces a very wide range of action, and is by no means limited to a menial service in the capacity of a slave. Every position of trust wherein responsibility to a higher authority is involved, puts the occupant of that position on trial, and his integrity and faithfulness are demanded. It is therefore generally recognized that should such steward or servant become idle, and untrustworthy in any, way, his dismissal would be entirely proper.
This, then, is the thought Paul has in mind in our text. He has chosen this well recognized fact to illustrate his point. If the servants of men, entrusted with earthly positions and responsibilities, are thus answerable to their masters, how much more so, the servants of Jesus Christ; who have lead greater responsibilities committed to them. His purpose is to bring home to the saints the inexorable. requirements of their stewardship of the mysteries of God.
As for Paul himself, the term servant seemed to have a special attractiveness. To designate himself a servant, or bond slave of Jesus Christ, was to him a very highly appreciated privilege. And not only in his relationship to the Lord did he glory in this title, but also in his relationship to the Church. To be their "servant for Jesus' sake" was to him an honor to be highly esteemed. How beautiful are his whole-hearted acknowledgments of his complete enslavement to the service of Christ. "Henceforth let no man trouble me, for I bear about in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus." As in those days slaves were marked with the distinctive brand of their respective masters, and must not be interfered with in the discharge of their duties, so he too bore the marks, of his Master, and therefore must not be molested or hindered as he concentrated his attention on the mission on which his Master had sent him.
Woe is Me if I Preach not the Gospel
The real value of the Apostle's example to us in this matter, lies in the fact that he took his permanent enslavement and commission seriously. He recognized that it was imperative that as a steward he be found faithful, and that if he should fail, the results would be woeful indeed. It therefore causes us no surprise-when we find him saying. "Woe is unto me, if I preach not the Gospel." -- 1 Cor. 9:16.
But in order to get the real force of his statement here, we need to give some attention to the context. He is writing to brethren who have failed to understand the real meaning of their slavery to Christ. These brethren hate been acting as though they were free to choose their own course of action, while he was subject to commands that must be implicitly obeyed; they might choose to reign, to be full, to be exalted, but he was held down by the responsibility of a commission, that had not yet been lifted; therefore he must continue preaching the Gospel and bearing the reproach and persecution that such service would bring. He observed that the Corinthian brethren were "at ease in Zion," lulling themselves into a state of inactivity when they should have been partakers of the same experiences that he himself was having. "As my beloved sons I warn you." This is not the time for reigning, nor the time for relaxation, nor for exaltation, but the time for preaching the Gospel. And by inference they are told that their failure to be active messengers of the Good News is indeed a serious matter.
Let us note that Paul was not here thus exercised in mind over the matter of learning the Gospel, and then maintaining his hold upon the truth of that Gospel; the woe he felt pressing down upon him was definitely connected with the preaching of that message to others. "Woe is me" if, after being entrusted with such a message, I should cease to proclaim it until my instructions to preach have been superceded by a further command from the Lord Himself. So to all who might choose their own plans, he would reiterate the binding nature of his obligations. There could be no discharge from that responsibility, until the work .was completely finished. A few years of fiery, ardent zeal, would not release him. The accumulation of hindrances, such as imprisonments and chains, stripes and punishments of the most drastic character, would not permit him to relax, and relinquish his responsibilities. He was not at liberty to conclude at any time that he was released from that woe until face to face with conditions that absolutely and positively prevented his further activities, and these circumstances did not come until the very close of his life.
Blessed those Servants Found so Doing
No indeed! Until there was no ear to hear the message, no struggling Church to comfort, no weak hands to be strengthened, no feeble knees to be confirmed, that, "woe is me," would not be silenced: The place of service, or the circumstances surrounding him, were of secondary importance. Whether in Rome or' Judea, whether as a free man, at liberty to come and, go, or as a prisoner in bonds, he must preach. Only death would terminate the period of his stewardship, and permit him to lay down the burdens it involved.
Well did the beloved Apostle write: "Follow me as I follow Christ." He knew what the example of Jesus was in this matter, that by precept and example He had taught the most devoted servitude to God and His people. His repeated admonitions, urging watchfulness acid persevering faithfulness until He returns with His reward, taught it. His promises, in all cases confined to such as are faithful unto death, confirmed it. In the mind of Paul, therefore, it must be until death for himself and those to whom he writes. We today have additionally the typical lessons corroborating all this. The entire disposal of the offerings representative of our share in suffering with the Lord are pregnant with the same truth. There is no possible door of escape therefore from a life-long, ardent, willing, complete pouring out of the soul's powers and talents in the service of the Lord and His people. Blessed indeed are those who continue to experience that impulse within that must burn out in willing service until the sacrifice is wholly consumed.
In all of this we are again brought face to face with the same important conclusion, namely, that the real purpose and power of the Gospel does not lie in its academic niceties, nor in any system of ethical philosophy directed chiefly to the intellect. Neither was it intended to be most effectual in human hearts when compounded with definitions of terminology and exegesis that lift it out of the grasp of "the common people who hear it gladly," and for whom it was mainly intended in this present Age. It was meant to be decidedly practical so, that all sorts and conditions of men could comprehend and believe it in their hearts, confess it with their mouths, and serve-it with their lives.
The anointing of the Holy Spirit, and ordination as ministers of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God, is given to believers in this Age, not only for the purpose of illuminating their minds and producing through its power the fruits and graces that constitute a character approved of God, but also for the purpose of making them His messengers to others. Every member of the Church therefore has been anointed to preach the Gospel, and every member in proportion to his or her talent and opportunity should share with Paul the weight of his stewardship. All should realize in some considerable measure that they too may properly say, Woe is me if I am not faithfully spreading the glad message of comfort and joy wherever possible. How barren and unfruitful our Lord's life would have been to us, even though "holy, harmless, and undefiled," if it could not have been also written, "He went about doing good," laying down life itself for others. Of every true disciple and follower of the Lord Jesus it should be possible to say the same. It is this positive element of character, and the recognized obligation to activity that is specially intended in the term steward, as given in our text. Therefore a faithful steward cannot be one who would carefully preserve his talent in a napkin, to return it to his Lord just as he had received it. To such an inactive servant the rebuke is most scathing: "Thou wicked arid slothful servant, . . . thou oughtest therefore to have put My money to the exchangers, and then at My coming I should have received Mine own with usury." -- Matt. 25:26, 27.
Vigorously Cooperating in Spreading the Gospel
The importance of this subject is our apology for reiterating it again and again. Over and over again in the Scriptures we are shown that the faith of the Glad Tidings should be our special theme and story-telling it to all men wherever possible, but certainly telling it repeatedly to the Church, for its need is demonstrated by the fact that "those who know it best, seem hungering and thirsting to hear it like the rest." The whole creation groans and travails in pain, and we, the Church, "groan within ourselves" -- all waiting in expectation of the deliverance promised. And these groanings are the great appeal that should energize every steward of the mysteries of God, and clear the way for a concerted ministry. of comfort and happiness. Surely this was the thought in the mind of the Apostle when he wrote these words: "Only behave yourselves worthily of the Glad Tidings of the Anointed One, so that whether coming and seeing you, or being absent, I may hear concerning your affairs, that you stand firm in one spirit, with one soul vigorously cooperating for the faith of the Glad Tidings." (Phil. 1:27, Diaglott.) And, beloved, regardless of where we are in respect to times and seasons today, and regardless of who of God's servants have fulfilled their mission and, passed on, the open doors before us are God's assurance that the sublime commission given to all the anointed class, Head and Body, is still in force: "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; He hath sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He might be glorified." -- Isa. 61:1-3.
Showing Our Faith by Our Works,
Have we faith in such a message as this? To those who have, there will come the heart understanding of the words of Jesus: "I must work the works of Him that sent Me." That impulse of love, hidden within the heart, will be a spontaneous urge that will put fire into our lives and make weariness in well-doing an impossibility. If the many who are broken-hearted within reach of our influence today, and the many who are mourning in Zion, "mourning for a glory that has departed," and the many who need "the garments of praise for the spirit of heaviness," have not been able to reach our hearts with their appeal, surely such a lack of response and the absence of such works in our lives, testifies that our faith and love have grown cold. We have the words of Jesus for it, that, when His Word, alive with spiritual vigor, has been received in a good and honest heart, there will be a fruitage both in character and in service proportionate to our several abilities, "some thirty, some sixty, and some an hundred fold." This will be gloriously possible, because the language of such hearts will always be, "Speak, Lord, for Thy servant heareth." "Here am I, send me." And the close of life's work day will not find these sighing, "Must I go, and empty handed, must I meet my Savior so?" but they "shall come again with rejoicing, bringing their sheaves with them."
We would see Jesus
The great appeal that the ministry of Jesus has to the human heart is always the same. One of the greatest tributes ever paid to Him, came from the lips of His enemies: "This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them." And He Himself said: "I came not to call the righteous [self-approved], but sinners to repentance." Heavy hearts have ever found solace in His gracious invitation: "Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." -- Matt. 11:28.
And what was it that moved the multitudes nineteen hundred years ago? The "gracious words that proceeded out of His mouth"! What was it that transformed the woman of Samaria and restored Mary Magdalene to purity? The saving love of Jesus! What was it that tenderly nursed a faltering Peter until he became a fearless defender of the truth? The patient, abiding love of Jesus! Yea, what has been the influence that has produced characters like Peter, and John, and Paul, in whose ministry Jesus has lived over and over again His life of service? And what power has produced a noble band of men who have kept alive the evangelistic spirit of the sympathizing Jesus? It has been the Gospel of saving grace, burning in the hearts of faithful stewards who have shared with Paul the definite purpose of bringing to men that which they needed most -- a personal knowledge of the power of the Gospel unto salvation to every one that believeth.
Men of Vision
It is no meaningless cry, this prayer for men of vision that is so frequently heard within the Church, for it is written: "Where there is no vision, the people perish." Where there is no proper concentration of thought on the great fundamental facts of the grace of God, the people lose their hold upon the most important elements of their faith. And who are these men of vision? Are they prophetic seers, or gifted orators who can soar into the mystic or sublime? No, these are not the real men of vision now. The present need is for faithful stewards of the grace of God, ministers of the "Good News," simple, practical, spiritual minds, aflame with the Spirit of the Master -- individuals who have a heart like His, full of the "tender Shepherd's care," who can see "afar off," and are able to weigh correctly the relative importance of things or themes limited to transitory time, or to the vital issues of an endless eternity.
Peter has shown us who are the real men of vision. More than this, he shows us how to become such ourselves. After admonishing us to add the various graces of character, in which brotherly love and kindness are prominent, he proceeds to assure the possessor of these an abundant entrance into the Kingdom. But those who are deficient in these things, we are told, are "blind and cannot see afar off." Doubtless if he had written in the language of our day he would have said, "He that lacketh these things is short-sighted -- deficient in far-sighted vision," therefore incapable of seeing anything outside or beyond the present moment -- living within the narrow limits of near-sightedness, when he should be looking more at the "far off" things of eternity.
Peter himself was surely not lacking in these qualities, and therefore his was no short-sighted survey of the things that really matter. He saw "afar off" and comprehended the eternal issues in his wholesome counsel. The emphasis was put just where the spirit of inspiration intended that it should be. His two Epistles are intensely practical, and speak to us today in language peculiarly appropriate, and his example is worthy of imitation on the part of all who desire to be faithful stewards of the grace of God.
Splendid Example of a Faithful Ministry
Let us take just a brief review of his First Epistle and note its general trend. We are "begotten unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead"; we are "kept by the power of God through faith"; we are seeking to "be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ"; and expecting all this, we "rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory." Then he admonishes: "gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end," not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance. . . . Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy." "Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light." "Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow His steps." "Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren." "Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts." "The end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober and watch unto prayer."
"Think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you." "The time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: . . . and if the righteous scarcely be saved where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?" "Feed the flock of God . . . being ensamples to the flock." "Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time." What wonderful, what timely themes!
Full Assurance of an Abundant Entrance
There is nothing complicated in these faithful exhortations, nothing "hard to be understood," no basis for disagreement, and at all times, a word in season. fitly spoken. A similar strain is found in, his Second Epistle, and in addition, admonitions specially helpful in this very day in which we live. He is about to tell us of things pertaining to the destruction of the present heavens and earth, when "the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up," and quite appropriately he directs our minds to the things requiring our special attention now. After urging us to add the virtues one by one, he says: "If these things be in you, and abound, they make you that. ye shall neither be barren [margin, "idle"] nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ." Then again, "If ye do these things, ye shall never fall. For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."
But now notice the burden this faithful servant carries on his heart. "Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth." And he is not through yet: "Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance." His desire to be a faithful minister of Jesus Christ carries him still further: "Moreover I will endeavor that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance." Surely he has accomplished this in his two Epistles, for which we thank God.
A Faithful Example for all Stewards
Would Peter be appreciated in our midst today, if he came to us again and again with nothing new? If we always knew in advance of his coming to us that his ministry would be just a rehearsal of "these things" as long as he lived -- would we weary of him? Many would. His ministry would not be controversial enough for some, and too searching an analysis of character for others. But Peter was a faithful steward of the grace of God, and well might we pray that God would give us more of his type today, to stir us up to a constant remembrance of what manner of persons we ought to be.
The men of vision today, are those who recognize that the solemn privileges of the present are definitely related to the great vital qualities of character necessary to that abundant entrance -- men who are wise enough to realize that we have a few precious days to assist each other in putting on the graces of the Spirit, and all eternity to unravel our theological problems, many of which are only differences of opinion over terms and words, and relatively quite unimportant. Let us then seek earnestly the far-sighted vision that will view all these things from the standpoint of eternity. Learning to weigh every matter in that scale, will be of inestimable value to us, giving us a much broader viewpoint, a more charitable spirit, and surely it will beget the sacrificing love within our hearts which we again desire to note.
Myriads of Leaders -- not many Fathers
To be a faithful servant, in the judgment of Paul, was an attainment of exceptional rarety. This is proved by his statement in 1 Cor. 4:15: "For though you may have myriads of leaders in Christ, yet not many fathers; for in Christ I begot you through the Glad Tidings." We could scarcely think of the Apostle as being guilty of a gross exaggeration; therefore. when he puts a "not many fathers" in the church over against "myriad's of leaders," we know that he is in deep concern over the matter. And that he was troubled about this condition we have further proof in his personal tribute to his faithful son Timothy: "But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timotheus shortly unto you . . . for I have no man like-mninded, who will naturally care for your state. For all seek their own, not the things that are Jesus Christ's." -- Phil 2:19-21.
It matters not that this was written over eighteen hundred years ago. Its truthfulness is as apparent now as then, and the arraignments as greatly needed. Paul's standard whereby he formed this conclusion, was an unfailing one. His touchstone was the sacrificing love of Jesus. By that test he judged himself. By that same test he found Timothy. And by the same rule he found his proportions -- thousands of teachers but few real fathers. And no one acquainted with Paul's ministry, need have any difficulty in understanding what he meant by a father in the Church. He was himself the embodiment of that fatherly care. Yea, on one occasion he changes the metaphor, and writes "My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you." (Gal. 4:19.) And again: "But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children." -- 1 Thess. 2:7.
Had the Apostle himself been the one who "loved the Church and gave himself for it," as did Jesus, he could not have been more exercised in mind about its interests than he was, and in this, as in other matters, he is saying to us, "Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ." -- 1 Cor. 11:1.
Qualities of a Faithful Steward
How easy it is to overlook the fact that a very large part of our faithful stewardship has to do with the possession of the pastoral qualities of the Good Shepherd. Since expression deepens impression, let us refer once more to the life of Jesus. If we are careful to note this element to the ministry of Jesus Himself, and its repetition in the tender solicitude of Paul, we cannot fail being impressed by it. How much it means to us to have Jesus say, "I am the Good Shepherd, and know My sheep . . . and I lay down My life for the sheep." (John 10.:14, 15.) How precious and significant His story of the search for the one lost sheep, while the ninety and nine were safe within the fold. And how full of meaning to us are the records written of Him: "When He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted (margin, were tired and laid down") and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd." (Matt. 9:36.) Well indeed did the poet write:
Physician now is near,
In the face of such a faithful example of self-sacrificing love, and in the light of such a solicitude for the straying, how could any servant of Christ today shut up his bowels of compassion against his brethren and be inactive and indifferent toward their needs. How can any true servant say, "O they have the Bible, or the Scripture Studies, let them depart in peace, be warmed, and filled,'" and yet do naught to help them? Yea, more, how dare any such pray to God to bless His people, locally or generally, and yet leave his own corner of the field neglected? Idle hands arc not compatible with a prayer for Zion's sake. Sacrifice, and more sacrifice, is the urge of the love that is like that of Jesus. "Ten thousand instructors" may wait for an audience to, come together of themselves, but to every true follower of Jesus, every needy heart, every hungry heart, every lonely, inquiring mind, will be an appeal. The eyes of the great Shepherd are over all His flock today. To every under-shepherd, to every member of His Church, according to his privileges and ability, He speaks those words of ordination : "Feed My sheep," "Feed My lambs." And if any sheep are missing from the fold, the Good Shepherd will be out seeking its recovery, for His is the love that will not let go, until the sin and the sinner are proved inseparable. Will we be out with Him, in His searching today, or at ease, anal unconcerned? Will we be more interested in trying to find a "closed door," than in saving a soul from death and covering a multitude of sins? Our covenant of consecration to do God's will, binds us with a definite obligation to lay down our lives for the brethren. Some may serve in many ways, others may be more limited in their opportunities. Some may be so situated physically or financially that there seems little they can do. But the question every steward of the grace of God must ,ask himself is this: Am I faithful to the full extent of my opportunity? Am I exhausting all my privileges, whether great or small, to preach the Glad Tidings, bind up the broken-hearted, and comfort all that mourn? The faithfulness required of stewards demands all this of us. May God grant us such measures of the Good Shepherd's great compassion and love as will consume us in our zeal to follow Him, whithersoever He goeth.
"Stir me, oh,
stir me, Lord! Thy heart was stirred
"Stir me, oh,
stir me, Lord! For I can see
Anger is wrong when it is fired by the lower passions. Most men are angry when their own interests are assailed, but bear with great patience wrongs inflicted upon others. Anger fired by self-love, or self-conceit, or self-will, is always despicable. But anger fired by the higher impulses is noble, manly, Divine. The ancient Prophets were angered when they heard the name of God blasphemed. "I count the enemies of God my enemies," said David; "I hate them with a perfect hatred." The spirit which flushes with resentment at an oath is better by far than the spirit which listens with indifference; or which laughs with pleasure. "Abhor that which is evil," says the Divine command; and no man is safe unless he does. Every child should have such a chivalric sense of purity of true womanhood that the salacious story, the illicit jest, the noisome scandal, should arouse his wrath against the teller of it. A moral discord should awaken resentment in a well educated conscience, as a musical discord awakens resentment in a well educated ear. The wrath of self-esteem, of approbativeness, of acquisitiveness, is dangerous and degrading. But it is both dangerous anal degrading to be without a wrath of conscience, of reverence, of faith, and of love. The wrath of love? Aye! the wrath of love. This is the divinest and hottest wrath of all. This is the wrath of the Lamb which will consume the world's dross in the day when it is purified so as by fire. Do not teach your children never to be angry; but teach them how to "be angry and sin not." -- Eph. 4:26. Selected.
(Continued from last issue -- sixth of the series)
WHEN Luther had been two years in the Convent at Erfurth; he was ordained a priest. A year later Frederic, Elector of Saxony, who had founded a new university at Wittemberg at the recommendation of Staupitz, invited the young priest to become professor of the university. He showed such brilliancy and aptitude for teaching that he was appointed to daily lecture on the Bible. "Every day," says the historian, "at one in the afternoon Luther was called to lecture on the Bible: a precious hour both for the professor and his pupils, and which led them deeper and deeper into the Divine meaning of those revelations so long lost to the people and to the schools!
Builds upon the Word of Christ
"He began his course by explaining the Psalms, and thence passed to the Epistle to the Romans. It was more particularly while meditating on this portion of Scripture, that the light of truth penetrated his heart. In the retirement of his quiet cell, he used to consecrate whole hours to the study of the Divine Word, this Epistle of St. Paul lying open before him. On one occasion, having reached the seventeenth verse of the first chapter, he read this passage from the Prophet Habakkuk: The just shall live, by faith. This precept struck him. There is then for the just a life different from that of other men: and this life is the gift of faith. This promise, which he received into his heart, as if God Himself had placed it there, unveils to him the mystery of the Christian life, and increases this life in him. Years after, in the midst, of his numerous occupations, he imagined he still heard these words: The just shall live by faith.
"Luther's lectures thus prepared had little similarity with what had been heard till then. It was not an eloquent rhetorician or a pedantic schoolman that spoke; but a Christian who had felt the power of revealed truths -- who drew them forth from the Bible -- poured them out from the treasures of his heart and presented them all full of life to his astonished hearers. It was not the teaching of a man, but of God.
"This entirely new method of expounding the truth made a great noise; -- the news of it spread far and wide, and attracted to the newly established university a crowd of youthful foreign students. Even many professors attended Luther's lectures, and among others Mellerstadt, frequently styled the light of the world,' first rector of the university, who already at Leipsic, where he had been previously, had earnestly combated the ridiculous instructions of scholasticism, had denied that the light created on the first day was Theology,' and had maintained that the study of literature should .be the foundation of science. This monk,' said he, will put all the doctors to shame; he will bring in a new doctrine, and reform the whole Church; for he builds upon the Word of Christ, and no one in the world can either resist or overthrow that Word, even should he attack it with all the arms of philosophy, of the sophists, Scotists Albertists, Thomists, and with all the Tartaretus.' "
Thus Luther's prestige grew, and Staupitz, the vicar-general, invited him to preach to the church of the Augustines, but the modest scholar remonstrated repeatedly and made many excuses until at last he was obliged to yield.
"In the middle of the square of Wittemberg," relates the historian, "stood an old wooden chapel, thirty feet long and twenty broad, whose walls, propped on all sides, were falling, to ruins. A pulpit made of planks, raised three feet above the ground, received the preacher. It was in this chapel that the Reformation was first preached. It was the will of God that this work for the restoration of His glory should have the. humblest beginnings. The foundation of the church of the Augustines was only just laid, and till it should be completed they made use of this mean place of worship. That building;' adds the contemporary of Luther, who relates these circumstances, may be aptly compared to the stable in which Christ was born. It was in that enclosure that God willed, if we may so speak, that His well-beloved Son should be born a second time. Amongst the thousand cathedrals and parish churches with which the world is filled, not one was chosen for the glorious announcement of everlasting life.'"
"The Beginning of a New Life"
Luther proved to be a preacher of such power and eloquence that his audiences were carried along with him. Soon the small chapel could not hold the crowds that came. "Luther preaches:" wrote the historian. "Everything is striking in the new minister. His expressive countenance, his noble air, his clear and sonorous voice, captivate all his hearers.. Before his time, the majority of preachers had sought rather what might amuse their congregation, than what would convert them. The great seriousness that pervaded all Luther's sermons, and the joy with which the knowledge of the Gospel had filled his heart, imparted to his eloquence. an authority, a warmth, and an unction that his predecessors had not possessed. Endowed with a ready and lively genius,' says one of his opponents, with a good memory, and employing his mother tongue with wonderful facility, Luther was inferior to none of his contemporaries in eloquence. Speaking from the pulpit, as if he were agitated by some violent emotion, suiting the action to his words, he affected his hearers' minds in a surprising manner, and carried them like a torrent wherever he pleased. So much strength, grace, and eloquence are rarely found in these children of the North.' -- He had,' says Bossuet, a lively and impetuous eloquence that charmed and led away the people.'
"Soon the little chapel could not hold the hearers who crowded to it. The counsel of Wittemberg then nominated Luther their chaplain, and invited him to preach in the city church. The impression he there produced was greater still. The energy of his genius, the eloquence of his style, and the excellency of the doctrines that he proclaimed, equally astonished his hearers. His reputation extended far and wide, and Frederick the Wise himself came once to Wittemberg to hear him.
"This was the beginning of a new life for Luther. The slothfulness of the cloister had been succeeded by great activity. Freedom, labor, the earnest and constant action to which he could now devote himself at Wittemberg, succeeding in re-establishing harmony and peace within him. Now he was in his place, and the work of God was soon to display its majestic progress."
Luther's Call to Rome
In the midst of these many labors, there was to be an interruption, for at this juncture the brilliant orator was requested to go to Rome as a representative of seven convents of his order that were in dispute with the vicar-general. "The acuteness of Luther's mind, his powerful language, and his talent for discussion were the cause of his selection as agent for these monasteries before the Pope. This Divine dispensation was necessary for Luther. It was requisite that he should know Rome. Full of the prejudices and delusions of the cloister, he had always imagined it to be the abode of sanctity." To him the holy city had ever stood as the seat of holiness. It was now pleasing to God that he should view it as it was, the reality alone could destroy the convent-bred illusion.
When he had crossed the Alps and entered Italy he was entertained at a rich convent of the Benedictines. The magnificent apartments, the costly dresses, the tables laden with rich food were astonishing to the poor monk. On Friday the table lay spread with an abundance of meats. "The Church and the Pope forbid such things," said Luther. This criticism from the ill-mannered German was most offensive to the self-indulgent monks and he was invited to be on his way.
After a fatiguing journey, with a severe sickness along the way, he approached the city of the seven hills. In a transport of reverence he threw himself on the ground, saying, "Holy Rome, I salute thee!" In Rome his heart rejoiced in Christian recollections. In this very place: the Epistle was received which contained those words that had become so dear to Luther's soul, "The just shall live by faith." The pious monk continued to hold his delusions for some time, visiting all the churches and listening in credulity to the miraculous tales, going through with all the observances required of the devout: But he saw among the priests, levity, dissolute morals, and a contempt for things considered most sacred. They laughed at his simplicity. The sanctuary that he expected to find was desolate indeed, empty and profaned. As Luther saw into the inner life and conduct of Roman Catholicism, his expectations were most sorely disappointed. " No one can imagine what sins and infamous actions are committed in Rome,' said he at another time; they must be seen and heard to be believed. Thus, they are in the habit of saying, If there is a hell, Rome is built over. it; it is an abyss whence issues every kind of sin.'
Rome the Citadel of Spiritual Corruption
"This spectacle made a deep impression even then upon Luther's mind; it was increased ere long. The nearer we approach Rome, the greater number of bad Christians we meet with,' said he, many years after. There is a vulgar proverb, that he who goes to Rome the first time, looks out for a knave; the second time, he finds him; and the third, he brings him away with him. But people are now become so clever, that they make these three journeys in one.' Machiavelli, one of the most profound geniuses of Italy, but also one of unenviable notoriety, who was living in Florence when Luther passed through that city on his way to Rome, has made the same remark: The strongest symptom,' said he, of the approaching ruin of Christianity (by which he means Roman Catholicism) is, that the nearer people approach the capital of Christendom, the less Christian spirit is found in them. The scandalous examples and the crimes of the court of Rome are the cause why Italy has lost every principle of piety and all religious feeling. We Italians, continues this great historian, are indebted principally to the Church and the priests for having become impious and immoral.' Luther, somewhat later, was sensible of the very great importance of this journey. If they would give me one hundred thousand florins,' said he, I would not have missed seeing Rome!'
One day wishing to obtain an indulgence promised by the Pope to those who would ascend "Pilate's staircase"* on bended knee, Luther climbing slowly and painfully, upward, heard reverberating suddenly through his brain those loved but heretofore partially understood words of Paul, "the just shall live by faith." He sprang to his feet, in shame that he in superstition had resorted to degrading acts, and hurried away.
* Pilate's staircase, or Scala Sancta, is the supposed, stairway which Christ trod in the house of Pilate. Discovered by Queen Helena and miraculously transported to Rome, it is still ascended by the doing devout on headed knee, chanting and praying as they go. Not finding the 28 steps able to accommodate the crowds at the Lenten season, and other holidays, four additional staircases have been placed beside it, properly blessed by the Pope. At the foot of Scala Sancta is a framed notice which states that to one ascending in the proper manner with an earnest and contrite heart, an indulgence will be given of nine less years in Purgatory. In 1908 Pope Plus also decreed that such indulgence could be granted for the souls already in Purgatory.
Into the very Paradise of God
That great text wove itself in and out Luther's future life, character, and work. He comprehended clearly now the justification by faith he had read often in the Epistle to the Romans -- that righteousness which alone can stand -before God. Not only had this pure doctrine become a power of salvation to him, but it was the mighty weapon placed in his hand at the moment he arose to his knees on Scala Sancta -- a weapon by the Apostle Paul and now brought forth again from the heavenly arsenal to reform a decadent Church. The truth, covered by a mass of superstition, error, and Roman decretals, arose to fall no more.
Let us hear Luther's own words, "Though as a monk I was holy and irreproachable, my conscience was still filled with trouble and torment. I could not endure the expression -- the righteous justice of God. I did not love that just and holy Being who punishes sinners. I felt a secret anger against Him; I hated Him because, not satisfied with terrifying by His law, and by the miseries of life, poor creatures already ruined by original sin, He aggravated our sufferings by the Gospel. But when by the Spirit of God, I understood these words -- when I learnt how the justification of the sinner proceeds from God's mere mercy by the way of faith -- then I felt myself born again as a new man, and I entered by an opened door [Rev. 3:8. Compare also "The Revelation of Jesus Christ," Vol. I, page 209] into the very paradise of God. From that hour I saw the precious and holy Scriptures with new eyes. I went through the whole Bible. I collected a multitude of passages which taught me what the work of God was. And as I had before heartily hated that expression, the righteousness of God,' I began from that time to value and love it, as the sweetest and most consolatory truth. Truly this text of St. Paul was to me as the very gate of heaven."
Thus it was that Luther came into possession of that necessary truth that had been overlooked by ether teachers and reformers. In Rome, where it was first spoken, God gave to him a clear understanding of this fundamental doctrine of Christianity. "He had come to seek in that city of the Pontiffs, the solution of some difficulties concerning a monastic order; he brought back in his heart, that which was to emancipate the Church."
As the corrupt Church and its claims lost ground in Luther's life, the Word of God gained its hold upon his heart, and as it then happened, another scholarly honor was offered him and he became Doctor of Theology. Before the degree was conferred, he was required to take this oath, "I swear to defend the truth of the Gospel with all my strength." This was a solemn vow to one so conscientious, so earnest of heart, and the recollection of it, in times of stress and danger, comforted and upheld him.
The Truths that Luther Labored to Restore
Luther at times spoke against the many superstitions, the abominations of Christendom, but his best effort was to establish true faith as the false gods were cast down. Explaining the Scriptures, pointing out the difference between the Law and the Gospel, refuting the error that men by their own efforts or by any discipline can obtain remission of sins or righteousness, he continually pointed as had John the Baptist to the Lamb of God that had taken away the sin of the world -- to Him, who bore it all for mankind on Calvary's hill.
"Oh, my dear brother," he writes to George Spenlein a friend of convent days, "learn to know Christ, and Him crucified. Learn to sing a new song -- to despair of your own work, and to cry unto Him, Lord Jesus, Thou art my righteousness, and I am Thy sin. Thou hast taken on Thee what was mine, and given to me what is Thine; what Thou wast not, Thou becamest, that I might become what I wast not. Beware, my dear George, of aspiring after such purity as that thou mayst not have to acknowledge thyself a sinner; for Christ dwells only with sinners . . . . Meditate often on this love of Christ, and you will taste its unspeakable comfort. If our labors and afflictions could give peace to the conscience, why did Christ die upon the, cross? You will find peace in Him alone; despairing of yourself and of your works, and beholding with what love He spreads His arms to you; taking all your sins on Himself, and bestowing on you all His righteousness."
The authority with which he taught rested in the appeal which he made to the Word of God and the firm acceptance of that which he found there. His power was further strengthened by his own daily walk, which was in strict conformity to his discourses. These. were no- idle words, but were brought forth from the treasure house of a devout heart. The impotence of man -- the almighty power of God -- these were the two truths that Luther labored to restore.
(To be Continued)
"I do not ask,
dear Lord, that life may be
"I do not ask,
dear Lord, that Thou shouldst shed
I am sending you enclosed $_____, being the amount for the renewal of my "Herald" and the cost of some tracts.,
I take this opportunity to tell you that the "Herald" is constantly of spiritual. benefit to me as well as to Sister and regularly when it arrives, it is welcomed as a friend. We look upon it as a messenger that brings tidings from brethren in Christ from far away, with whom we can have communion in this way, and also as providing for us the spiritual food, which we want so much in these days.
Sometimes it happens that faith is not so strong and. disappointments dismay us, but then the Lord provides us with His consolation and thankfully we realize that His grace has preserved us.
I should be glad if you could send me a few copies (some five of each) of the tracts as mentioned in the tract: "A Message to the Watchers."
With love in Christ, in which Sister joins me, I remain
Your brother in Christ,
G. W. V. -- Holland.
Greetings n Jesus' dear name! Another year is past, and untellable are the blessings our Heavenly Father has showered upon us. In trying not to forget all His benefits we remember in a very particular way the regular visits of the "Herald," full to overflowing with the "water of life." Truly this is the most wonderful time in the history of God's dear people, and no doubt is witnessing the completion of the various classes, foreordained of God, for the full inauguration of the Kingdom in power and great glory.
Personally we are glad for the position the "Herald" takes along all lines, especially is not wasting, time and space trying to prove the "unprovable," but is steadily and consistently pointing us all to our Living Head, and pleading with us to open our ears to the Voice of His Father's Word. This is true teaching, and whether we hear or forbear, you are thus doing your part in showing us "the Way, the Truth, and the Life." And we say from the heart -- God bless you!
Man worship, organization worship, channel worship; and "works" worship still seem to have a strangle hold on many of the professed people of God, but many are escaping from this last phase of Babylon the Great's captivity, and while we all to some extent bear the marks of our slavery, yet thank the dear lord, He has all the agencies ready to make us "every whit whole."
Please find one dollar for our "Herald" renewal for 1931, and may its ministry of love continue to bear rich fruitage is our prayer. Sister S. joins in warmest Christian love to you all, -- also the Season's greetings.
Your brother by His grace,
C. B. S. -- Ohio.
Some copies of the Herald" have been sent to me and I like them, and am enclosing a draft for $1.00 for which please send it to me for one year.
And if you will kindly lend the Revelation books, I will promise to either buy them later or return them to you in as good condition as when received, as per your offer on the tract, "Immortality and the Resurrection of the Dead."
Would be thankful for a few tracts not many on any one subject, as I am a "shut-in." Your literature reminds me of the. good things of years ago from Brother Russell's pen and I am feeling hungry and unfed.
Your sister in the Faith,
Mrs. E. R. -- Ind.
TWO INFORMATIVE LETTERS
January 6, 1931
Quite a number of the friends -- subscribers to the Herald -- have urged me to make some statement that will be a means at least to offset my unfortunate letter published in the Watch Tower some time ago.
I have had no particular desire to unduly advertise myself -- for I have been humiliated enough already -- but if any publicity will counteract the influence of my letter to J. F. Rutherford, I am glad to avail myself of it; with this in mind I am sending you a copy of my letter to J. F. R. which if you deem wise to do, you may publish with my name and address -- use your judgment in this.
Yours in our Lord,
Ernest D. Sexton.
739 East Walnut
Mr: J. F.
Having in mind the letter I wrote you several months ago -- and which letter was published in the Watch Tower -- I feel it is obligatory that I write you again; I shall be brief.
At the time I wrote that letter I had a hope that I might still be able to engage in the work of the Society, in spite of the fact that I could not agree with all the Watch Tower articles; nor was I in full accord with the methods of conducting the work of the Society. However, I had determined to crush my own feelings and preferences with a view to being "Loyal."
The more recent articles in the Watch dower, and the whole of the "Light" book are to my mind so distinctly misleading that I now have no hesitation in positively separating myself from the "Society" as it now exists. This letter is absolutely without personal feeling, and is informative only.